Air drying chamomile, mint and sage
November arrived and I'm giving myself a pat on the back for getting the garden to bed before things freeze up.
Potted hostas are in the garage covered with a blanket. Pots of mint and catnip are safe in the ground until I retrieve them in the spring.
I hate to waste so I gathered the last of the chamomile, mint and sage, and I'm air drying them.
Air drying takes longer than using an oven or dehydrator, but it's an easier method for preserving fresh herbs. Plus air drying means the oils in the leaves (wherein the flavour lies) aren't depleted and you get more pungent herbs.
Any herbs still growing in your garden? Harvest them now and air dry them before it's too late.
Here are some guidelines:
- Remove only the healthiest blossoms and branches.
- Lay chamomile flowers in a single layer on a flat surface and store in a container once thoroughly dry.
- Cut mint and sage branches, give them a good shake and remove any discoloured or damaged leaves. Rinse in cool water and pat dry with a clean towel.
- You can strip the leaves from the stalk and allow them to dry individually, laid flat on a clean towel.
- Or, bundle four to six branches together, securely tie, and hang in an area free of dust, moisture and direct sunlight, with plenty of air circulation.
- Hang undisturbed for 1 to 3 weeks. Bundles shrink as they dry so check every so often to ensure branches are secure and not slipping.
- You can also place bundles inside brown paper bags and hang to dry if dust poses a problem. Make sure to punch a few holes in the bag for good air circulation.
- When leaves crumble between your fingers your herbs are ready to be taken down and stripped from the branch.
- If using the bag method vigorously shake the bag and a give it a few squeezes. The bag is great as it catches all the dried leaves.
- Store herbs in a tightly lidded container.