A lot of food preservation has been going on at our farm as of late, which has been keeping me from "real cooking"...at least that is how my 9 year-old daughter kindly put it. I seemed to have taken a lot of pictures over the past month or so to start a post, but finding the time to blog about whatever I have been up to just never seems happened.
But all of that aside, I decided today to take some time out of my busy schedule and write up a quick post on how I dry herbs and store them, which is rather important in my climate since the temperatures at night will be near freezing in the next few weeks and growing season won't begin again for 6 long months. And cooking just isn't really cooking without good herbs on hand.
Here are what each of my recent dried herbs look like before and after: (the before is on the left and the after is on the right)
Drying them in a dehydrator is rather easy - just lay each herb flat on a tray in the dehydrator and dry for 12 hours at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. But, if you do not have a dehydrator you can always dry herbs in your oven too. Just set your oven at the lowest setting, spread the herbs out on your oven racks and then dry for 6 to 8 hours (Keeping the stems in the herbs makes it a much easier process. You can keep the stems on when storing them or you can take them off the stem at that time. I tend to keep herbs like thyme with their stems on because I use it for making stock, but herbs like sage I tend to crush and add to recipes so I throw those stems out.), making sure to check on the herbs after the first 4 hours and move herbs around if some are getting dryer than others (unless you have a convection oven this will be the case).
Here is what the finished herbs look like in their storage jars, along with some herb flavored oils I made a few weeks ago.
Making the flavored oil is also very easy. Just pour a low-flavor yet healthy oil, like grape seed oil, in an oven proof container. Add the herbs you are going to use to flavor the oil, making sure to submerge them completely in the oil. Bake at 270 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 4 hours. Turn off the oven and allow to to completely cool before transferring to your storage container.
Of the two oils I flavored, one is Thai basil which I plan on using for stir frying and the other is Rosemary & Sage which will go good with chicken, stuffing, and lots of other more country style dishes.