How to dry aromatic and medicinal herbs

If you want to enjoy the properties and aroma of aromatic and medicinal herbs for longer, I recommend dehydrating them to preserve them. In this article I will present three plant drying techniques so you can learn how to do it correctly. This way, you can make the most of their benefits and enjoy their freshness even when they are not available in season.

Some tips before drying aromatic and medicinal herbs

To achieve quality dehydrated plants, it is essential to ensure you have a safe and sustainable harvest. This first step is key to ensuring that your plants are in the best condition before being dehydrated.

Once the plants are collected:

  1. Shake them to remove traces of dirt, dust or insects. 
  2. It is crucial to carefully check the plant's leaves on both sides for any signs of pests. This step is essential to guarantee effective and safe drying, allowing you to obtain optimal quality in the process.
  3. It is important to start the drying process as quickly as possible to prevent the flowers and leaves from wilting.

Once you have checked the quality of your harvest of aromatic and medicinal plants, it is important to know that there are several drying methods to preserve them properly. You have the possibility to choose the most appropriate method according to your needs and availability. If carried out with caution, all of them assure excellent results and optimal preservation of the plants' properties.

3 Herb Drying Techniques 

Bouquet technique

Drying plants is a classic and effective technique. To do this, you must group the plants in small bouquets. It is important to be careful when tying them to avoid overtightening, as a looser tie that allows air circulation between the leaves is better. This way, you will prevent the appearance of mold or the plant from rotting. 

Once you have prepared the bouquets, it is important to hang them upside down in a dry, shady place. Make sure to separate them well from each other and allow air to circulate freely around them. This way, you can maintain the freshness of the flowers for longer.

The time this process takes may vary depending on the type of plant. Some plants with higher water content and stronger fiber leaves may take 7 to 20 days.

When it comes to drying herbs like thyme or rosemary, whose leaves tend to break off easily, there are some practical options. One option is to place clean trays under the bouquets to catch falling leaves. Another alternative is to put them to dry in a clean paper bag, like a bread bag for example. These measures will help maintain the quality and preservation of the herbs during the drying process. This way when the bouquets begin to dehydrate you will not lose part of your harvest.

Drying in drawers with grid

In this situation, it is important to place the recently collected plants on boxes or trays with a grid-type base. This will allow air to circulate properly between the leaves and flowers, which is essential to maintain their freshness and quality.

It is advisable to rotate the pieces every two or three days to allow them to dry evenly. Drying times are the same as when hanging in bouquets, so it is important to place them in a dry place without direct light.

How to dry plants in the oven

If you have space limitations in your home or simply don't want to wait a long time for your items to air dry, there is an alternative: using the oven to speed up the drying process.

To dry the plants in this case, it is recommended to place them on a baking tray and then place them in the oven at a low temperature, between 40 and 50º C. It is important to leave the oven door slightly open to be able to check the drying process and prevent plants from burning.

In this case, the drying time is significantly reduced to just one hour, although it is important to keep in mind that this period may vary depending on the type of plant we are treating.

When the leaves of your plants turn from green to gray-green, it will be the right time to remove them from the greenhouse. This color change will tell you that the conditions inside the oven are optimal and that your plants are ready to be moved to a different environment.

Use a food dehydrator

The food dehydrator is not only useful for drying food, but can also be perfect for drying flowers and leaves of medicinal plants quickly. This tool allows you to preserve the natural properties and benefits of plants, to later use them in infusions, cosmetic products or medicinal treatments. This kitchen utensil is ideal for controlling the temperature and dehydration times of food. With this device, you will no longer have to worry about burning your herbs and losing their aroma and properties.

Now you have multiple alternatives to convert your harvest into preserved aromatic and medicinal plants, which are very useful for a wide variety of uses at home. These herbs and medicinal plants are very versatile and can be used in various ways, such as to prepare herbal teas, decoctions, macerates and oleolates. You can also add them to your recipes for tasty and aromatic dishes, as well as find many other uses for them.

Don't forget to store your dried plants in clean glass jars. If you are interested, I explain in this post how to create beautiful labels for them. You can also choose to make garnish bouquets with aromatic leaf mixtures for practical use.

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