Can anyone tell me why my parsley turns yellow when I hang it to dry?
I dry my parsley on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees. Before drying, I snip all the leaves off the stems. Dries beautifully and keeps its bright green color. After it dries, I rub it through a colander.
Usually air drying will cause yellow or browning. In order to get the best taste and color retention, a quicker drying method is needed. A dehydrator would be a good investment if your planning on drying any plants/herbs, etc. Doing it in the oven can be a bit more difficult if the lowest set temp only goes down to 200 degrees. Thats a bit too much heat to dry them without some cooking also going on. Besides that, most home ovens cant keep temps below 200 degrees very well. Air movement is also needed to help dry things quicker. Unless the oven is a convection type, which offers fan forced air circulation, it will not be very accurate. A proper drying temp should be below 170 degrees. All of this has been discussed on another recent thread.
Basically, the quicker you dry something, the more color and flavor it retains.
My dehydrator manual says 95Â° for herbs, but that does not work for humid areas. 125Â° is about as low as I can go in the summer when humidity never falls below 60%.
A friend tells me that a microwave oven works well. I haven't tried it. IIRC, the time used is very short.
No, a microwave will not work well enough to dry them. I use one to just quickly wilt the greens a little first about 5 seconds ONLY. Because of the much smaller amount of moisture, you could seriously damage a microwave. Even for that, any heat generated when it comes in contact with microwaves and water, will vaporize, and could be higher than 212 degrees, which in fact would cook them. A fan type dehydrator is the best option, as its designed specifically for this purpose. Unless you want to attempt freeze drying, there is only one good way they would dry properly and not loose taste and color quality.
I always use my microwave to dry parsley. It's one of the few herbs which doesn't lose either colour, or flavour, or aroma when done this way.
I put a sheet or two of paper towelling onto an ordinary dinner plate, then I spread the parsley over it (I remove the leaves from the stems first, using scissors). I then give it a zap for 1 minute on HIGH. Then I remove the paper, which by now has become very soggy, and replace it with fresh paper. I repeat the procedure. By this time, the parsley around the outside has become partially dry, so I use my fingers to stir it around a bit. Then I zap for about 30 seconds, and stir again. From there, I zap in ever-reducing time increments until the parsley has completely dried and can be easily crumbled.
I do find that the plate gets hot because of the lack of moisture in the microwave, but I've never had one break or crack. If I think it's just a bit too hot, I just wait until it cools down before zapping again, in, say, 10 second increments.
The total time will vary according to your microwave and the amount of herb, but I generally pile the plate high with the herbs (probably 4-5 cupfuls fresh), and it takes roughly 3 minutes all up. I would not dare to do it all in one go - it needs to be stirred around anyway for even drying.
I've been doing it this way since microwaves were first available to householders, and I've found it very successful. The parsley doesn't cook, and it doesn't go brown (although it will if done for too long!)You need to watch it with an eagle eye and never walk away from it.
It will still be steaming just a teensy bit when you remove it from the microwave. I just let it happen, stirring a little with the fingertips to let the steam escape, crumbling it as I go, and within a minute or so it's completely cool and completely dry and ready to bottle. I use the paper towel as a funnel to do that.
You can do it in an oven, but it takes much longer. You need to have the oven heat on as low as it will go, and to leave the door ajar throughout.
Interesting about the microwave. Should you have a cup of water in the oven at the same time to prevent possible damage?
A friend of mine has been drying bird peppers using layers of kosher salt and reports doing well & perfect color retention. In a mostly closed large container. It has holes in the bottom if I recall correctly.
Not sure if gas ovens still have always on pilot lights, but there was someone in an old AOL forum that used gas oven with door slightly ajar for drying peppers and tomatoes.
If you hear loud snapping noises, its a good possibility that the microwaves are bouncing back towards the magnetron. If this happnes, the first thing that goes is the seal around its opening (magnetron) and then the device itself. This is one of the main reasons the makers tell you not to put metal in there, and never run it empty. Mine has a built in safety in that its constantly measuring the moisture that exhausts out. If the moisture goes way down, the power to the magnetron also lowers. Placing a cup of water in there along with the herbs is a bit counter productive, and would slow down removal of the moisture. Depending on the model, its rated power, and several other things the use of a microwave for drying something may lead to early failure. Fats, and sugars can heat up a lot hotter than water, so these will quickly burn. Some time ago, I put a plastic bag with some frozen bread in the microwave just to quickly thaw it. The plastic bag had a wire twist tie and actually caught fire seconds after it was powered on. I wouldn't think of using my oven for drying anything. My cheap Ronco dehydrators do the job very well, with just 20 watts of power.