Using an Herb Drying Rack
If you are an herb gardener who dreads the end of the growing season, you should invest in an herb drying rack to extend the period of time during which you can enjoy your herb harvest. One of the best things about cooking with herbs that have been dried on an herb drying rack is that dried herbs are extremely concentrated compared to fresh herbs. If you are accustomed to cooking with fresh herbs, you will find that you need less than one-half the amount of the same herb when you use it in its dried form.
Dried Herbs Last Longer Than Fresh Herbs
Drying herbs on an herb drying rack is the most effective way to preserve them. While fresh herbs wilt after a few hours, dried herbs can be stored in the freezer or in glass jars in a dark cupboard. If dried herbs seem to have lost their essence, you can refresh them by rubbing them between your fingers before adding them to your favorite recipe. The fresh aroma will convince you that there is plenty of seasoning power remaining in the shriveled leaves that once were a part of your herb garden.
Hang Herbs Upside Down on the Herb Drying Rack
To dry herbs, use sharp shears or clippers to harvest herb stems early in the day. Remove the leaves that are within one inch of the cut end of the stem, and fasten ten to twenty stems of the herb together with a rubber band.
Hang the bundle of herbs upside down on the herb drying rack. Gravity will pull the essential oils in the stems of the herbs downward into the leaf tips. As the moisture evaporates and the stems of the herbs grow smaller, the rubber bands will tighten around the stem ends, keeping them securely bundled together.
Bundles of herbs and flowers hung upside down on an herb drying rack are actually quite attractive. If you do not have an herb drying rack, try screwing hooks around the frame of a door and hanging bundles of herbs upside down on the hooks. As you dry lavender, Echinacea, yarrow, and other herbs, the colorful bundles will add a beautiful and natural element to your interior dcor.
An herb drying rack should be made of natural material that encourages air flow, like wood, twine, or fiber board. The flow of air around the herbs is essential to preserving their essential oils. Herbs need not be in the dark to dry, but they should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent fading and leaching of the natural oils.