Refrigerator Herb Drying


 I had a over abundance of herbs this year. The French Thyme especially has just grown and grown and I can’t keep up with it. The flat leafed parsley also has been great and Sue gave me her pot of basil so you can see we didn’t lack for fresh herbs.
 However, the need to dry some is one of the things I really hate to do. I tried several ways including deciding that I would just forget about drying and dump the pots when the cold weather came.
 Well, surfing the web one day, I lucked on to the web site of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State Extension. What a find! There were the directions for drying herbs in the refrigerator and they were saying that they were better than any other way. Sounded good to me, so I tried some. Great idea and so good when dry. The color and aroma is marvelous and little to no work involved. What could be better.
 I bought some dried French Thyme from Penzey Spices and it is excellent but not cheap. Now I have a great supply of dried thyme, parsley and basil for this winter.
I am going to post the directions as well as the link to the web site and encourage you herb growers to try this.
All you need is: homegrown herbs, a clean brown paper lunch bag, a paper clip, a pen. and........a frost-free refrigerator/freezer
Pick herbs before 10 am so that the intense afternoon sun does not evaporate the natural oils in the leaves.  Make sure that herbs are clean (wash and then dry with untreated paper towels).  For large leafed herbs (basil, sage, etc.) remove the leaves from the stem, for small leaves (parsley, thyme, etc.) dry stem and all.   Place no more than 20-30 large leaves or 10-15 stems in each bag.  Fold the top down and place a paper clip to keep the bag closed.  Write name of herb and date on the bag.  Then simply place the bag into your refrigerator.

It should take approximately 2 weeks to dry.  To help the process along, whenever you get something from the refrigerator, shake the bag to separate herbs.  When the herbs are crisp dried (you can tell from the sound of the bag and by touch); take the bag out of the refrigerator and keep it at room temperature for approximately one week to insure that it is totally dry.  Then place the dried herbs into a glass container (preferably brown glass), label and date.  Store in a dark, cool place and the flavor will last for several years.

This process works extremely well for herbs that otherwise lose flavor or scent and color, such as, basil, tarragon, the fruit flavored sages, lemon or lime balm, parsley, rose petals, and scented geraniums. 

Chives and rosemary will do better by using this method but placing them in a frost-free freezer instead.  In the freezer, the process will take 2 months rather than two weeks, but flavor and color retention are excellent.  Cut chives into small pieces and rosemary can be done with stems and leaves.  

4 comments:

  1. Well that is something I've never tried!
    This post is very well timed as I have been meaning to gather herbs and haven't gotten around to it.
    Thanks for another great post!

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  2. I've never heard of that method - how interesting. I'll have to try it out this summer.

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  3. Ilene, this is really a great way of drying herbs. I hate to do that and this worked like a charm. Did you notice how green they stayed even when dry?

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  4. I hadn't heard of it either till I ran across the web site and tried it. I have some dill drying now.

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