We’re fortunate in that we can store our plentiful summer herb harvest for the winter. Let’s look at how to use a dehydrator to dry fresh herbs.
Herbs were traditionally dried in small bundles and hung in kitchens and attics. This method’s natural beauty and aroma are unquestionably appealing. However, you may not always have the space or the patience to wait for hanging herbs to dry. Alternatively, if you live in a humid climate like I do in Virginia, it can be difficult to dry fresh herbs without losing them to mold and mildew. Dry fresh herbs in a dehydrator is an efficient way to quickly dry and preserve the goodness of dry fresh herbs.
Oven drying is one way to speed up the drying process, but drying at too high a temperature can harm plant quality, and maintaining the ideal temperature for dry fresh herbs in a conventional oven can be difficult. You can effectively preserve the medicinal and flavor qualities of dry fresh herbs in a dehydrator, and you can use ronco dehydrator on your cooking business.
How To Dry Fresh Herbs Using a Dehydrator
- Preheat your dehydrator with the thermostat set between 95 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a particularly humid climate, you may want to set your temperature as high as 125 degrees.
- If your herbs are damp, be sure to gently blot them dry with a towel to remove as much moisture as you can.
- Place the herbs on the dehydrator trays in a single layer.
- Small leaves can remain on the stems, but removing larger leaves from thick stems will shorten the drying time.
- Drying times will vary depending on the moisture content of your herbs. Loose, fine herbs like yarrow and mint will dry more quickly than moisture-filled herbs like plantain or comfrey. Expect 1-4 hours for most herbs.
- Check your herbs periodically for dryness.
- If you are using a stacked dehydrator, place the harder-to-dry herbs on the bottom and the lighter herbs on the top. It will be easier to remove the faster-drying herbs if they are on top.
- Be sure to keep track of which herbs are in each tray – it may be difficult to tell them apart when they are dried.
- You can dry any combination of herbs at one time as the flavors will not blend.
- If you are drying roots, scrub the dirt from them, pat dry, and cut into ¼ to ½- inch pieces. The roots will harden when dry, usually within 6 – 10 hours.
- The herbs are dry when the leaves crumble and the stems break when bent.
- After you remove the herbs from the dehydrator, allow them to cool before storing to avoid condensation forming.
Advantages of Dehydrators
You can carefully control the temperature and drying time of fresh herbs by drying them in a dehydrator. There are numerous alternatives for home dehydrators. The following are some of the benefits of drying fresh herbs in a dehydrator:
- Temperature control. In general, the lower the temperature for drying herbs, the better the color, aroma, and medicinal value.
- Faster drying time. Using a dehydrator, most herbs can be dried in hours instead of days.
- Drying herbs in a dehydrator requires less space than hanging herbs or laying them out on racks and screens.
Some Things to Consider When Purchasing a Food Dehydrator
- Size and space. You can choose small dehydrators and work with small batches of herbs, or you can go large. Just remember to consider the space you have for using and storing the dehydrator.
- Noise. Some dehydrators can be quite loud during the drying process, especially those with fans that circulate the air.
- Extras. Fan or no fan, temperature control, and timers are some of the choices available when purchasing a dehydrator.
- Cost. Drying fresh herbs at home is an effective way to save money. You can spend less than $50 for a simple dehydrator to dry a few small batches or hundreds of dollars for a dehydrator capable of rapidly drying large batches of herbs.
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