Drying Herbs and Plants for Cooking and Medicinal Use

So you dry your own herbs, right?
Can you show us how you made the drying board and what you dry and how you dry
it? Sure. Okay So there’s actually two different ways
that I dry my herbs. if it’s … if it’s easy to bundle it, like lavender,
then a lot of times I’ll take this, the whole stock, bundle a group together and
then hang them to dry. Yeah so that’s my rosemary. I trimmed the bush and so I
decided to just hang dry several of the stems and that way I
could take that off for other uses. How long do you leave something like the
rosemary drying? Typically you want to only leave it up for one to two weeks.
Really it’s a case of just testing it to see if it’s brittle when you go to
snap it. So like this one is totally dry. Since I’m not going to use this rosemary
to eat, I was actually planning to use it for making a cold infusion for my hair, I
figured it doesn’t matter if it’s up a little bit longer because I haven’t gotten to
it yet So I had actually some extra tollel
that I had bought to act as a netting over some plants. It didn’t wind up
working quite how I wanted it to and so I had some left over and so what I wound
up doing was taking some scrap wood and cutting it so that I wound up with four
different frames that would fit the size of the fabric that I had left over. So
the size isn’t really that important? Nope,
it really was just a case of this is how much fabric I have– let’s make four
screens. And so just got wood to fit that size. And this looks like it’s a two by
two and it’s cut at a 45 degree angle and then just screwed the edges.
Yep. Basically like a picture frame. What’s on the underside, nothing?
Nope, it’s just plain wood and we just took the staple gun to staple the netting
into place. Okay, so for leaves and smaller herbs, a lot of times I don’t
bundle it just because it’s a little bit harder to make sure that the bundle has
good air flow, and just trying to corral all those leaves is sometimes
hard so that’s why I actually use the screen to dry. And if I need extra
airflow I can always put some blocks underneath it to raise it up so there’s
underneath air flow as well. On this screen I actually have my echinacea petals and echinacea leaves that I’ll be saving for echinacea tea and then over
here I have lemon thyme and the leaves are awesome and but it
was, it was flowering and so I
decided I would snip some of them off and dry it just to see if those also carry
the the lemony taste, since I used the flowers fresh a lot of times when I’m
cooking. Or I’ll actually take them, clip the flowers off, and put them in my
salads so I figured I would test to see if it was something that I wanted to dry
for future use or whether it wasn’t quite worth it once they dried super
small. So haven’t quite decided on that one yet we’ll decide once I taste test.
Over here, these leaves are lemon balm Again these are for tea– the main use
that I have for it. How long does it take to dry the echinacea or the lemon
balm? They’re normally dry within about a week to two weeks. Lemon balm, if I wanted
to I actually could have bundled and hung to dry from their stems, hang them
upside down. In this case I just didn’t feel like going to that hassle and I had
a screen that was empty and so I just decided to lay them out, since I only had
a couple. This plant over here is regular thyme and so it had been laid out over
the whole screen and then once it was dry I just kind of shoved it off to the
side because I hadn’t prepared its jar yet So that’s why it’s all kind of in a
bundle there. Normally I wouldn’t have dried it that way. And then this is
actually a comfrey leaf. I accidentally broke it when I was watering in that
region and so I just snapped it off and brought it inside to dry.
What do you use it for? Comfrey is good for healing. So if I wanted to make like a
wash to wash a scratch that I had, I could use that to kind of make a tea and
then put that on the wound to promote healing. This screen has different types
of basil. This year I bought a seed packet that had probably twelve
different varieties of basil in it. So I don’t really know what the different
types are. I decided that I would dry them and I’ve kind of grouped them with
the ones that have the purple flowers and then this type which was a shorter
variety and this kind has a pineapple or lemony scent to it when I’ve crushed
it. And so I wanted to keep them separate from just the regular basil that I’m
used to seeing. I have heard that it’s best not to dry basil, that it keeps
better if you freeze it. But actually I heard that after I had already snipped
these to dry. So these are going to be dried and it seems like they did fine.
I’ll just try and use them up once I’m done drying the material I actually put
them … I got a spice rack from Goodwill that
had a bunch of these glass jars so this this is my spice rack jar set
that I got at Goodwill. Some of them have pre-written, well actually they all come
with pre-written labels on them. But some of the labels are to things that I
don’t use or don’t have in the herbal sense
So those I have actually re-labeled. That was rosemary and you have rosemary.
Yes, so this is rosemary that I dried and put in here for kitchen use. So lemon
thyme, this is what I have dried so far of it. Lemon thyme is not a common thing
in the spice rack, so it didn’t have a pre-made label so I just replaced the
black peppercorn since I wasn’t going to be growing any of those.
Coriander I actually dried some cilantro and put it in the coriander since they are actually
the same plant. Don’t know that I liked the dry as much. I’m thinking that in the
future aI’ll freeze the cilantro instead of dry it but that was my one of my
trials this year. And then sage. This one is actually stevia which is a sweet
leaf, and so my plan is to try mixing it in with some teas to see if it will give
that sweetness into the tea when I make it. And this one, I decided I would
try to make my own onion powder. So I actually dehydrated a purple onion
and then once it was dry I blended it in my food processor and put that in
here. And so it’s pretty good, although it kind of has formed a chunk which is too
bad. But I just have to shake it up and it loosens it for what I need. Dried herbs are better to store in glass
just because the airflow is different than plastic . If you store it in plastic,
it does have more breathability and so the potency of your herbs will disappear
faster. So it was a really good find to find the set of all of these on its nice
little rack. Which is awesome to be able to look at it and see a bunch of dried
herbs ready for use. So one thing to note I actually store all of my herbs as
their whole leaf instead of powdering them or crushing them up. That
actually keeps their flavor a little bit better.
You just discard the stems? Yes Yep,
once you crush it, it lets out all of those oils that give the flavor, and so I
try and store them whole and then just crush them when I’m ready to use them
And that way they have the best flavor Even though they’re dried So you have an urban garden and you’ve
experimented with growing different herbs and things. Is this something that
anyone could do, even in the city in a pot, to grow their own herbs and dry
their own herbs? You can grow in a pot on your windowsill. They are pretty
hardy plants. It’s one of the important things to keep in mind — if you’re
gonna dry things you want to do it before they start to flower. So last year
I had some herbs and I didn’t catch them soon enough and so I really didn’t have
a good quality of herb to dry. So this year I’m trying to be more proactive on
catching it before it starts to flower And go to seed/ But you know it really is
an experimentation, trial and error, type of thing And as you start the process of
growing your own herbs and drying them As you go through your winter, you’ll
kind of see what things would have been helpful to have in larger quantities or
which things you really didn’t need So, for instance, parsley.
I had dried parsley and I did use the dried stuff when I didn’t feel like
going out into the garden, but where I live it actually survived
the whole winter and so I was able to go out and pick fresh parsley. So I didn’t
need it quite as much. Whereas like oregano, the plant was dead and so I
really need to have the dried oregano to use Well, thank you very much for showing us this. It was interesting and
exciting and makes me want to try it!! My pleasure

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