Have you ever tried drying herbs on your own? We recently tried an Alton Brown method using cheap furnace filters; all you have to do is line up the herbs in each crevice and then use a fan to dry them.
One note: Keep the herbs on the stems – otherwise the leaves will easily stick to the fiberglass filter. Also, think about the sizes of the leaves in each filter. We combined Thyme and Sage before realizing it’s better to match sizes so they finish at the same time. The Winter Savory and Tarragon were both about the same size and finished drying at the same time, so they were good to have on the same filter.
Here are our herbs lined up and ready to dry: Greek and Mexican Oregano, Thyme, Sage, Winter Savory and Tarragon.
Now just plug in your fan and attach the filters – then wait. Alton says to run the fan for 12 hours, reverse the filters and run for another 12 hours. Mine took much longer, though – closer to 48+ hours, especially for the large leafed herbs. A lot depends on the CFM (cubic feet per minute) of the fan and this one was pretty cheap, so the flow was pretty low which probably contributed to the longer drying time. Regardless, at the end, the herbs had good color and dried quite nicely.
With the number of herbs we have in the garden, it’s definitely worth the time to have some dried herbs on hand as well as fresh herbs when needed. We use the dry herbs when making spice rubs for meats and fish.
Here’s the final result:
After about 48 hours (especially for the herbs with larger leaves), the yield was only about 2 ounces each. This may be the reason why those little jars of spices purchased from your local grocery or specialty store cost $5 (or more) per jar! The good news is the shelf life is one year, or even more (depending on how you store them).
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.