Dehydrators are a good investment if you are a gardener. There are many models to choose from and range in price from $40.00 – $250.00. The herbs that I dry are typically those found in the garden such as parsley, thyme, sage, lemon balm, mint, oregano, cherry tomatoes, fruits, and dill. Drying is easy but preparation is key if you want a good product in the end. Lets begin with parsley.
Out in the garden, cut parsley down to the second growth – there always is an underlying growth below the top plants, cut short enough so you don’t leave long stems. Tools you will need are a colander or basket and scissors. I prefer not to wash the herbs I’m drying, but I’m strictly organic and do not use any chemicals in the garden (if you do use chemical products etc. you should wash)- washing adds to the time it takes to dry. The dehydrating process itself rids the herbs of any small bugs that might be on the plant. When dehydrating, I do wash cherry tomatoes or fruits/other larger vegetables, but not herbs.
Preparing the herbs for drying: Some herbs I pinch the leaves off from their stem – remember the closer
you pinch/cut the leaves off from the stem the fewer stems you will have in your dried product.
When preparing parsley, I found it goes much faster when I cut the leaves from the stem rather than pinching the leaves off. To do this, make a big bunch in one hand holding it by the stem and start cutting from the top until you reach the stem. This cuts the processing time in half.
Load your tray quite full – remember the leaves dry much
smaller so there will be plenty of space. Processing time varies depending on the moisture in the air, how full the trays are etc. – typically it takes about 5+ hours for the leaves to dry. Drying temperature varies by dehydrator type – refer to your manual. When dry, the leaves should feel crunchy to the touch. At this point, it is extremely important to get the herbs into a zip lock type plastic bag right away to keep them out of the air especially in our moist northwest climate. Your herbs will last you all winter…… enjoy – dehydrating is easy and fun.