Thursday, October 30, 2014

How to oven dry herbs

If you're anything like me the last thing you need is 1 more gadget! Waffle irons, blenders, mixers, toasters etc all take up space in my kitchen. Not to mention the crock pots, electric roasters, ice tea pots and buffet servers that hide in their boxes in various closets till needed. I just don't need 1 more gadget! That's why I end up doing things the hard way....or actually the more traditional way. Like water bath canning and oven drying instead of the 'easier' newer ways. *sigh*    

It's actually not all that hard to dry herbs in the oven. Depending on what type of oven you have, you should have to supervise the drying. You might even be able to just pop it in there and forget about it till morning! 

how to oven dry fresh herbs

The first few steps are the same for any type of oven. Pick your herbs early in the morning when their oil content is the highest. This gives the best flavor. Rinse the dirt off your herbs and pat lightly with a lint free towel to dry. Remove any damaged, brown or withered leaves. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet and use it to line the baking sheet. Arrange your herbs on the baking sheet. Leave room between sprigs (don't pull leaves off the stems yet, It'll be much easier later!) Spread out flowers, sprigs or cut chives leaving room for air circulation. Stick that bad boy in the oven and choose your oven method below.

Gas oven with interior pilot light: When I had one of these it was always warm and dry in there. I could simply put the herbs in and shut the door then leave it overnight. Even though the oven was off they were always perfectly dry by morning.

Oven with convection feature: This is the one I currently use. I turn the oven on 170 and convect. Leave herbs for about 20 minutes then turn, flip, toss.....whichever, just get them flipped over so the part that was on the baking sheet is now in the air. Let it convect for about 20 more minutes then turn oven off. Check for even dryness. If not, stir flip or turn again and place back in oven for 20 more minutes. When done turn oven off and leave in warm oven till cool. 

Regular oven (no convect, no interior pilot light): This is the trickiest since there is no air flow and you'll be using high temperatures. Set oven to 170. You'll need a wooden spoon to prop the oven door open just a bit to help with airflow. This will take longer then a convection oven. I stir, toss or flip the herbs about every 20 minutes. The opening and closing of the oven adds some airflow and lets some of the moist air out of the oven. It will probably take close to 2 hours to completely dry your herbs. Keep checking and flipping every 20 minutes. When done just turn oven off and leave till cool.

How to oven dry fresh flowers and herbs

Once dry you can strip the leaves from the stems of most herbs by running your fingers down the stems. They should pull right off. Crumble one between your fingers. If it turns to powder, they're done. If they are still a little soft then they'll need more drying time. Once completely dry I store them in clean dry mason jars. (ok...recycled pasta sauce jars, they look the same!) I leave the lid off the jar for the first day or 2 just to keep them exposed to air a little longer. If you live in a humid area, I would skip this step and put the lids on right away.

Things to consider: 
  • If the herbs were still a bit wet when placed in the oven they will need a longer time to dry.
  • Some herbs have more oils then others. The more oil content they have, the longer they will take to dry.
  • Drying several types of herbs in the same oven at the same time makes sense, but more pungent herbs might lend their flavors to more delicate herbs. For instance I wont dry my chamomile with the oregano or chives ever again!  
  • When drying several types of herbs at once some will be done sooner then others, remove them as soon as they're dry and let the pans sit on top of the oven to cool. 
  • Use a separate lined baking tray for each herb unless you really do want them mixed when they're finished. Picking dill out of your sage is no fun!
  • Never use a temperature over 200! It will bake the herbs not dry them causing many types to blacken and lose all flavor.
  • If your oven does not go as low as 170 you can put the herbs in and turn it on and get it as close to 170 as possible. Then turn it off and let it slowly cool down to room temperature. Toss the herbs around to see if they're thoroughly dry. If not repeat the process, turning each time the oven cools down until dry.
  • The faster the herbs dry, the better the flavor will be. Even if you do have that first oven with pilot light...if you have the time you might want to try the other methods instead.
That wasn't so hard, now was it? Now it's time to find some cute printable labels for all those jars of fresh dried herbs!

~L

14 comments:

  1. Saving this for when I get my garden going again. I needed to find a way to dry the extra herbs and this is perfect!

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    1. It's nice in the colder days of fall....gives the kitchen a little more warmth and smells so so good!

      ~L

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  2. I have dried our garden herbs for many years now and they are the very best herbs for our cooking and medicinal uses. I do have a countertop dehydrator, but with your method, I could dry all the herbs at the same time, filling the oven AND dehydrator. Doesn't the house smell good while the herbs are drying ?

    BTW, I LOVE your blog name !

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! We have lots of chickens and live in the woods....and a name was born! lol

      They do smell good! I really want a dehydrator. Maybe I can justify it by giving up the back-up coffee pot? lol

      ~L

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  3. I have only hung some of my herbs for drying. This is great info and I am pinning it for next year. I too do a lot of things the hard way. I cut everything by hand when bottling salsa and such, but I enjoy it! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    Replies
    1. I hang some, but my only place to hang them is in one of the sheds and I'm always afraid they'll get buggy. If I had somewhere inside the house, I would definitely hang more!
      I like hand chopping stuff too,=. The repetition is kinda soothing!
      ~L

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  4. Great post. Followed you from the Simply Natural Saturdays link-up. Love for you to come by this week’s Wildcrafting Wednesday and share.
    http://www.herbanmomma.com/2014/11/wildcrafting-wednesday-11-5-14/

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  5. Very interesting tutorial on drying herbs. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  6. Oooh, I loooove my dehydrator, but I like having options too. It's good to know how to use the oven for drying too:) Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop this week!

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  7. Great post +Lisa Murano. I linked at the Tues. With a Twist Blog Hop. That for sharing How to dry herbs in the oven. I like the idea of using parchment paper and will try that next time. Lovely pictures you illustrate this post with too! Look for my post at the Link up too. It's about taking action with your food shopping dollars. Warm regards,
    Nancy Andres

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nancy! I'll head over and check out your post now!

      ~L

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  8. So helpful! I was just going to look up how to dry herbs. You saved me the effort!

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