Monday, August 20, 2012

Drying Herbs the cheap and quick way

Last week we decided the herbs were getting too overgrown. We needed to do something with them. So I got the grand idea to dry them.

Except we don't own a dehydrator. I know there's a way to hang the herbs to dry, but with the large volumes of herbs that we will need to dry (especially before winter comes), I was hoping for something a bit faster then "Hang here till black and not yummy looking".

Then Daddy, the fan of cooking shows and storehouse of useless information he is, remembered seeing a Episode of Good Eats, where Alton Brown invents his own drying set up. (See the info here) So off we went to our beloved hardware store and purchased supplies.

Now 2 things to keep in mind when you do this. A) DO NOT USE FIBERGLASS filters, you want the ones that are basically paper and wire. B) Do not use anything with anti - anything chemicals. Neither are very yummy or good for you.

Once you have your hardware, go out and pick some herbs. This day we decided to try with some sweet basil, purple basil (that was looking kinda green), oregano and thyme (since all are in abundance).

After you harvest your materials, you will need to blanch them. Basically dip them in boiling water for 5 second, then throw straight into ice water. Once they have cooled, place them on paper towels to dry (or as in Alton's case, a salad spinner.)

Proceed to lay out your herbs in a single layer on the filter. Try to keep them as even as you can, but realize that sometimes you just can't get them flattened out (like thyme).  Once your layer is done, put another filter on it, which in our case we put MORE herbs on, then a top filter to hold it all in place.
Once you have your nice stack, bungee cord them tightly onto your box fan and plug in and run on medium for 12 hours. After twelve hours, flip the filters over, then repeat for another 12 (Note, don't start this too close to bedtime, or you will have to take it all off the filters at bedtime as well the next day).

 Extra bonus to this, we ran the fan in our garage, and it smelled WONDERFUL in here. You could smell all the herbs in the filter in the garage for 2 days after. This can be done in the house, we just didn't want anyone playing with it.

How did it turn out you ask? Well come back tomorrow to see the final results.

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