Friday, September 5, 2008

Frugal Living Friday: Dehydrating Herbs

Starting today I will be featuring a new topic called Frugal Living Friday. Each week I will feature a tip that can help us stretch our budget and live more frugally! If you have a tip that you want shared on Frugal Living Friday, let me know and you could become a guest blogger for a day.

On to today's topic: Drying herbs! I love growing fresh herbs in my garden. But I also hate to see them go to waste. Dehydrating them is a perfect solution! It is fast, easy, and it will give you spices to use in your cooking for months to come. It saves money on buying them.

There are probably many ways to dry herbs, but I will share with you how I like to do it. If you have done this before and have advice to share, please feel free to comment!

The first thing to do is to pick the herbs from your garden. Here I have parsley, chives, and lemon basil. Oh, they smell so good! I love picking herbs and having my hands smell so fresh and tangy.
Wash them well under fresh water. I like to put them on paper towels, then dab off the extra water with more paper towels on top. Make sure they are completely dry. You can let them sit out to air dry but I just dry them off with the paper towels then shake them a bit to get the extra water drops off.

When the herbs are all clean, you will notice the longer stems, like here in the parsley. You want to cut those off before dehydrating.

This is how I like them to look before I put them in the dehydrator.

After you have all the herbs cut to the proper size, then put them on the trays. I like to pack them in, but not too tight because they will dehydrate faster. Herbs generally only take about 4 -5 hours anyway to be done. I have found with my dehydrator (I have a Ronco) that it works more evenly if I have them spread out a little more.

I have five trays on my dehydrator, so I have plenty of room. When I did all the herbs here all five trays were packed. I had 2 trays with chives, 2 trays with parsley, then this tray pictured here, with parsley and lemon basil. Notice I did the basil like the parsley, the longer stems I cut off before placing in the dehydrator.
Here are the chives. I snapped these in half and laid all over the tray.

Now, just follow the directions according to your dehydrator. Here is what mine looked like when done. Notice how the pretty color is gone and they get all shriveled up. The basil especially. But the wonderful flavor and smell is still there. I love how my house smells when I dehydrate herbs!

When you are finished, there are many ways you can store your herbs. You can crush them and place them in empty spice containers from the store, or in your own containers. I read somewhere that fresh herbs like this keep their flavor better when they are crushed immediately before using. So I choose to store my dehydrated herbs in sandwich sized baggies. I can fit an entire tray of parsley in one baggie. Then I can crush them right before using. Another tip I read was that fresh herbs like these keep their flavor much longer than the ones you buy in the store. Who knows how long they have been on the shelf. My parsley and chives that I dried last year still smell as fresh as the herbs I did last week. Awesome!



The Miller Family said...

Yay! I'm loving Frugal Living Friday!

Tami said...

Great idea! I need to find a dehydrator for next year when I will plant some herbs.

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