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do you dry herbs?

Posted by helenh z6 MO (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 14:09

I don't cook that much or use herbs in cooking except sage in dressing and rosemary on chicken and salsa requires cumin that I purchase. I have some sage in a pot and a rosemary plant that probably won't make it through winter. I have an oregano plant and a basil that has bloomed. On-line I saw how to make bundles and put them in paper bags to dry. I would have to buy paper bags - don't make lunches any more around here. Do you save herbs? which ones and how?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: do you dry herbs?

Helen, I do dry sage and rosemary and will try lemon thyme this year. I just clip it; tie loosely in small bundles and clip to a coat hanger and put it in a dark airy place to dry. A closet would work or a shed where it is dark.

Once dry, I strip off the leaves, crush or grind and bottle.

I am not a big herb user either but should be more daring. I do have a super shortbread cookie that uses lemon thyme and make it regularly now.

I wintered over my rosemary in the barn last year and put it in the ground this spring. It is now about 30x30 inches so I don't think I can dig it up. I may try to take some cuttings.

Lemon thyme isn't hardy either so I need to do something with it.

My oregano is perennial. I need to clip some of it too.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I used to dry herbs in my gas oven years ago. Put them on cookie sheets and let the pilot light dry them.

This year I got my dehydrator out (circa 1991) and have been drying apples, mushrooms, and green beans. Good results, so far. Hope to dry some tomatoes today and tomorrow.

Since I started seriously cooking again, I was amazed at how old some of my herbs were. Threw them out and got new, but that gets expensive. Going to try drying my own herbs this year.
Good luck, Helen.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Thanks no paper bags mentioned. Sage in a closet should smell good. I love the smell of rosemary. Sunny tell me all about drying tomatoes and what dehydrator you have.

I have started reading the China Bales mystery series. You have to start with the first one to appreciate them because the main character's life story in the Texas Hill Country progresses from book to book of individual mystery stories. The author is Susan Wittig Albert. The series was mentioned by Okiedawn on the OK forum. Albert is no Dean Koontz you don't stay up all night finishing the books. They are for women no sex no violence and a lot about herbs and medicinal plants. I pass the books on to my friend's sister and she passes them on to her church and Sunday dinner friend. We are all older ladies. You can get the used paperbacks on Amazon 7 at a time to get the free shipping. I pay about $4 each. I am on Mistletoe Man now; the next one is Bloodroot.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Helen, my husband and I got the Ronco Food Dehydrator and Yogurt Machine for the tons of produce we grew every summer. I also canned and froze a lot. It dries things just fine, with 5 trays and a cover top that can be open vented or closed. I was amazed that it was $129 then, as I had stuck the receipt in the book. I'd never never pay that now!!! lol We would take the dried stuff with us when we Got Out Of Dodge in the winters, and particularly enjoyed the banana chips. Never have made jerky, but you can do it in this.

That was before vacuum bags (Ziplock) and a little by-hand bag vacuum (Wal-Mart $20) and those things, I think, will keep the dried stuff a lot better.

Today is the day for drying tomatoes, since I totally got engrossed in my library book, ("Wild" by Cheryl Strayed). I talked with a vendor at the Farmers Market yesterday and I'm going to do them as she does -- peels off, slice, and dry for a day. So we shall see.

I have an absolute glut of tomatoes this year, as well as peppers and onions. Helen, your Mule Train keeps me supplied well and I'd like to have it every year, along with Box Car Willie and Beefsteak.

By the way, I'm learning to save heirloom seed. Did my first bunch of seeds the other day. Bless Christie -- she's my inspiration to really learn to plant seeds in 2014. Oh yes, I'm going to dry my herbs in the Ronco, with a layer of net over the screen.

You could probably find a Ronco on Amazon. It's really simple to use. I have an electric oven, so oven drying is out.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Thanks Sunny. I think I will buy a cheap Wal Mart dehydrator just to try it. I did try to dry some in my electric oven; I put them in a bag in the freezer. I didn't trust them to keep. Some worked out OK some I threw away because I didn't allow enough time for them to dry and needed to go to town. I think peeling them would help them dry faster but the peel does hold them together.

Tomatoes are easier than flowers from seed. I always start them too early because I can't wait but Glenda knows when to plant the seeds.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I didn't get around to planting any seeds this year Sunny and I think it's the first year that I didn't in many many years. I've been saving up a stack of containers for next year though and will do enough winter sowing to make up for my laziness this summer.
Let us know how your dehydrator goes Helen. Sounds like it would be kinda fun.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

You reminded me about winter sowing. Now I'll have to try that. I'll also read the G-W forum stuff about it before I set it up.

How is your drying endeavor doing, Helen? What machine did you buy and what do you think of it? If it has a fine screen for herbs that would be great. I decided not to use the nylon net after all. If your trays were square-ish, you could use screening cut to fit. My trays are round.

Since I've been learning to cook Mexican food, I never seem to have enough cilantro. Grew it this summer and it did okay, but it wasn't exceptional and went to seed fast.

Bought a couple of bunches at W-M for 74 cents each and dried the pieces (without stems) in the dehydrator. Didn't take long and what I got was a lot of strong cilantro, dried well, and I hope to have it in a big jar all winter. The dried cilantro for sale in small bottles is rather expensive.

Still drying a lot of tomatoes and some banana chips. Going to do different herbs next week.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

The dehydrator is Presto. It is the only brand I found at Wal Mart. I read reviews before and didn't buy anything because some reviews are not favorable. Several people had fires - not good since you leave them unattended over night.

I tried one batch of tomatoes. It worked well. I am wondering if seasoning the tomatoes would make them taste better. I put a little salt on one tray but nothing on the others. The dehydrator worked better than my oven. I bought a bunch of cilantro and I will try that.

I have some bananas here. I may try some of those. I haven't read the directions for fruit yet.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I know it has been almost a month, but I wonder if anyone is drying food? Would love to know what different things dry best for you, and specifically about drying sweet and hot peppers.

I have dried them in rings and in strips. The rings seem to have dried better. And Helen, how did the seasoning the toms before drying go?? I'm still drying toms, bananas, and peppers. Running out of time on toms, as they are ripening too fast to use this slow method of preserving.

And I unplug the unit overnight or when I'm gone for an extended period.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

At the moment, I'm not drying anything but I have dried bananas, peaches, pears, apples, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, sage, parsley, made fruit and watermelon leather, and jerky, with varying degrees of success.

I have a Harvest Maid 10-tray dehydrator that I bought in the early 1990's or late 1980's. It cost a little more than some, but it's not the "cadillac version" either.

What I like about it is that it will operate with whatever temperature you choose, or none at all, and you can adjust the ventilation holes in the back from all the way open to all the way closed. What I don't like about it is that It's kind of fussy to clean.

All that said, since I have lived in my current house, I have dehydrated things in my walk-in attic and it works very well, but I do have to take whatever temperature is up there. I'm not dehydrating in winter unless it's too many bananas I got at the store, so for that I can use the dehydrator. What I like about the attic is that it accommodates a lot more at a time than my dehydrator will. I've never had a situation where things didn't dry as well as in the dehydrator. I just take the trays up there and leave them a couple days, botta bing.

I've never worried about fire from my electric dehydrator although it's possible it might overheat if on the highest temperature with the vent holes all the way shut.

For drying herbs, I really prefer just to air-dry them. I don't bother with paper bags or tying things in bundles, I just strip the leaves from the stem and dump them on a stack of two or three thicknesses of newspaper on my dining room table. I close the blinds and run the ceiling fan. Every now and then as I walk through the room (and by the way, with the blinds closed it's still not terribly dark), I gently toss the leaves with my hands. I can get a feel for how dry they are and whether they're ready to put away.

I have a vacuum sealer that has a jar attachment and when dried food or herbs are dry enough, I pour them into quart canning jars and seal them, using a used canning flat that I have carefully removed when I opened the jar it was on the first time. I leave the jars sitting on the counter for about 24 hours so if any aren't going to keep their seal I will know it before I store them away and I can replace the flat and throw away the one that wouldn't stay sealed.

I wouldn't use any bigger than quart jars, and sometimes I actually use pints for herbs. Because if something isn't totally dry, you can get mold and it will ruin the whole jar. This is the main thing you need to watch out for.

Dried products need to be kept out of direct sunlight and in fact they will keep longer if kept in darkness. For this reason, I rag-paint the outside of the jars that I keep my herbs in, because I like to keep those in my kitchen where they will be handy. The rest goes into my pantry which is window-less and has a door that is kept closed.

Keep in mind when dehydrating, the thinner the slices, the faster the drying and the better the product. Tomatoes and peppers should have the peel removed first and tomato seed, when dried, is bitter.

I hope this helps! I tried to attach more than one picture but I can't figure out how to do that.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Great information Ilene. I have used the top of the bed in the middle bedroom that is totally dark without a light on.....I live in a weird old farm house that the built around..........therefore, no windows in that middle room.
I have posted multiple pics before; I will check into that and see what I do and let you know.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I bought my inexpensive dehydrator in a panic - tomatoes everywhere. I am getting to the point of forcing little old ladies to take them. If I didn't have so many worm holes there would be twice the tomatoes. My friend is taking some to the senior citizens lunch today.

I think a little salt helps the dried tomatoes but not much because the drying concentrates it. I made more Annie's salsa and have not experimented with the dehydrator. I freeze it and my little freezer is full. If I get everything out I think there is room in there. Stuff down in the bottom has been there a while.

I let a banana go bad last week and my garden onions sprouted. I need to learn to use the dehydrator more. I have an unused cast iron wood stove in the basement that is on brick and surrounding by brick. I feel safe letting the dehydrator work over night on top of it.

I am glad you said that about the seeds and the skin because I have tomatoes that need places cut out of them so I may try odd bits and pieces instead of nice slices. If they don't turn out well it is no loss because tomatoes are everywhere.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I wish I lived near you, I'd sure take all those tomatoes in a heartbeat. Hubs loves tomatoes and he can really compete with my desire to have some left to can. I don't say anything because he's so good to help in the garden with the heavy stuff.

What kind of tomatoes do you (and everyone else) grow? This year I grew Chico and Cody's paste tomatoes, Bonnie Best for early tomatoes, Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter for big tomatoes, and Reisentraub for cherry tomatoes. I'm not going to grow Chico again because it has fallen prey to Blossom End Rot two years in a row, and this year I even added calcium and Epsom into the planting hole. Radiator Charlie has been a good tomato, very few hollow places and good flavor, but not very prolific, a little bit more core than I would've liked and a pretty good scar on the blossom end. Reisentraubs.... well.... not as prolific as I expected, didn't thrive in the heat like they said it would, really no better than any other cherry tomato as far as flavor. I really love Kellogg's Breakfast, a delicious yellow beefsteak, but Hubs wants RED tomatoes. Sheesh.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I moved the pot of lemon thyme inside last fall-and forgot it. Set it out in spring, revived, and grew huge this summer.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Ilene, how do you dry onions? I have a world of Candys that I dug and now they are hardened off for winter in the potting room. Maybe I could dry some of them? Also found a bag of Vidalias -- YUM! -- that I had forgotten I had bought, that after buying another 5# bag of them. So, it would make sense to dry some, but my little Ronco booklet doesn't mention them.

At last the Cherokee Purples are starting to ripen -- I was lucky to find a 6 flat of them, so now I have a lot. The Beefsteaks were the most prolific plants, along with Box Car Willie and Helen's Mule Train. Next year I'll try Mortgage Lifter and another plant or two of Mule Train. I never get tired of eating fresh tomatoes. Thinking about making some fresh cream of tomato soup one of these cold evenings. Doesn't that sound good?
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

rockwhisperer I planted lots of tomatoes of many kinds. I can't really compare them because some have good spots and some are in the rocks. I planted too many because I didn't give away many seedling plants this year like I always do. It snowed in May so they were in and out in and out. I planted almost every one of them because I was not proud of the way they looked. Last resort I planted some only a foot apart. If we hadn't had that rain in Aug. they wouldn't have made it. The best ones for me were Wes, Pale Perfect Purple, Jet Star a hybrid, Red Brandywine, Black Krim, Black and Brown Boar. Earlier Indian Stripe and Cherokee Purple were beautiful good tasting tomatoes but they haven't made any tomatoes lately. I have a bunch not labeled. Siberian a small red tomato from Sandhill is a dependable small tomato. I don't like cherries. except Matt's W C. Matt's Wild cherry is a very tiny red tomato that planted itself and has taken over. It shaded some of my tomatoes and prevented sunscald so taking over is not so bad. I just wonder if I will have a billion of those next year. I don't pick those usually but I have used a scissors to cut whole sprays of them. They are too small to mess with but kind of attractive.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Sunny, drying onions is very easy. Just slice them and lay the slices on the tray. No need to separate the rings, that will happen as they dry. They dry down A LOT, so you don't need to slice them very thin, either. If you can specify the heat level in the dehydrator, go as low as you can go.

Dehydrate outside though. Do you have a covered patio or porch, some way to keep rain and dew off the dehydrator. They will really stink. And when you slice the onions, refrigerate them first, that will help with the tears. I've never tried those onion goggles but I hear they work.

After they're dry you could probably chop them more if you want to, or make onion powder, but I prefer to seal the dried rings in jars as-is and if I need them to be in smaller pieces when I use them, I just stack them on the cutting board and cut them in fourths or whatever, with my vegetable knife.

REMEMBER that just a little bit of something dried equals a lot of the same thing in its fresh form so don't get carried away when using. I dehydrated celery and one entire "head" of chopped celery fitted in one little jar. OMG...

I love home-made tomato soup! If you have kids and they are used to Campbells, they probably won't like the homemade kind. Campbells uses sugar and thickeners like guar gum. It's always so educational to read the ingredients on the label. Almost everything tomato has sugar or corn syrup in it now.

Thank you, Helen, for the information on the tomatoes. I've grown Cherokee Purple before but Hubs thinks they look like they're spoiled. Sheesh. You have rocks, too? I'm on limestone. I've grown Jet Star before and liked it. Also Brandywine, I think I still have some seed. This is funny, someone sent me a packet of "lime basil" in a seed trade a couple years ago. I planted the seed, thought the seed looked a little strange but I wasn't thinking much about it at the time, they grew into tomato plants and the tomatoes were round, blemish-free, and red. Hubs liked the flavor. I saved some of the seed and labeled it "lime basil tomato" because I have no idea what it really is! LOL My mother used to grow the Brandywine pink and hybrid Better Boy. But that was years and years ago. I need to figure out what to grow next year so I will have enough to can, but I'm trying to stay away from hybrids as much as I can so that I can save the seed. Glenda will tell you I had lots of tomato plants started last spring, but I lost a lot in the roller coaster wacko weather we had. I do like the hybrid Candy onion and the hybrid Packman broccoli though.

Glenda, thanks for the offer of help on posting multiple pictures. It used to be we had to have our pictures saved on one of those on-line photo places and put the html code into the message but somebody said that doesn't work now. I think Blogger stores the pictures we post on our blogs somewhere, if I can find where that is maybe I could use the html code from there.

Looks like it's going to be another beautiful day.... --Ilene


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RE: do you dry herbs?

O! Thanks so much for the drying info, Ilene. To think I can dry celery (!) -- I never have enough in the winter and use it all the time. Will start some "cooking" today -- And onions. Who knew they could be dried at home?

Forgot that Brandywine is a big producer this year as well. Going to can toms today and dry some. Must buy some more Vidalia Blossom Sauce from Food for Less (to which I am definitely addicted) while they still have it. Ran out last winter and had to wait until the Vidalias came in. So good on tomatoes, meat sandwitches, in stuffed peppers, etc.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

O! Thanks so much for the drying info, Ilene. To think I can dry celery (!) -- I never have enough in the winter and use it all the time. Will start some "cooking" today -- And onions. Who knew they could be dried at home?

Forgot that Brandywine is a big producer this year as well. Going to can toms today and dry some. Must buy some more Vidalia Blossom Sauce from Food for Less (to which I am definitely addicted) while they still have it. Ran out last winter and had to wait until the Vidalias came in. So good on tomatoes, meat sandwitches, in stuffed peppers, etc.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Vidalia Blossom Sauce? Never heard of it! What's in it?


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Well, one thing - and I'm sure it's a good thing - it's not made from the blossoms of Vidalia onions. It is a sauce to put on deep-fried whole onions, called Onion Blossoms, which I'm sure have at least 20 billion calories.

It's distributed in a 16 oz bottle by Vidalia Brands, Inc. in Georgia. Has Vidalias, mayonnaise, egg yolks, corn sweetener, vinegar, ketchup, a little hot sauce, horseradish, etc. Just delicious. You could probably make it at home, but the Vidalia taste is a special part of it, and I haven't really tried.

The produce manager at Food For Less assured me they would keep this in stock until November. It's about $3.50? and goes a long way. Ask someone in produce where it is, because they move it around. You can look it up at www.vidaliabrands.com.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Thanks! I found a recipe on -- I think -- Cooks.com, it called for sour cream, ketchup, some other things... I've gotta taste this. Hubs won't like it. He hates everything. Heh


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Well, you can't go wrong with Cook's. Let us know how it comes out -- I just might shift my preference, if it's really, really good, since I could make it at any time and wouldn't have to warehouse bottles of it. I guess it might call for bottled onion juice?

It occurred to me that you might not be local and I think there are only two Food For Less stores in Mo, so if that's the case, Cook's is the way to go.

Note: Started some celery drying today -- had to make them longish, since diced went through the screen. Tomorrow is Onion Day.
Sunny


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I live between Bartlesville and Nowata, Oklahoma. Just 19 miles south of the Kansas state line. Most of Oklahoma is zone 7 and I'm in a tiny strip that's 6a. I get weather that's more like MO, AR and southern KS.

Helen, I meant to ask you if you know you can freeze bananas. Just stick 'em in the freezer, peel and all. The skin will turn black and look horrible, but the fruit inside keeps its color. If thawed completely, not very appetizing, gets very soft and mushy but if you eat it while still frozen, it's good. My kids used to say it was like ice cream. Just take the banana out of the freezer, let it sit on the counter for about five minutes, then score down one side all the way down with a knife. The whole peel will come off the still-frozen banana with a little poking around with your thumbs. Mostly I use frozen bananas to make banana bread or muffins, but sometimes I'll cut one up into the blender with some powdered milk, a little water and some crushed ice, and have a banana milk shake.

This post was edited by rockwhisperer on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 5:54


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RE: do you dry herbs?

Thanks, I often waste bananas and that is a good idea. I had a banana milk shake this morning made with ice cream, banana, and milk - not low cal. I buy bananas and don't eat them. The only time of day I don't have an appetite is the morning. I will go without eating and then realize I feel bad. The bananas are something to have around when I do that. I decided to get things to eat in the morning and so I bought the ice cream for milk shakes. I wonder how long I can go before graduating to a new pant size.


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RE: do you dry herbs?

I admit I blew by the posts to post, sorry.... But yesterday i wanted cilantro for a pico, and of course had too much left. one layer on a cookie sheet, lowest setting of the gas oven, took 20 minutes with a shakeup at ten minutes.

I hang my thicker herbs, but oven dry the thin leafed ones. no need for a dehydrator, even though i have one.

Cheri


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