Healthy Habits: Drying Herbs for Cooking

Using herbs can often result in healthier cooking, since you may use less fat, salt, and sugar in your recipes. Not only do herbs smell wonderful, but some also contain antioxidants that help protect you against certain diseases.

Drying Herbs

To dry herbs for future use, follow these steps:

  • The best time to cut herbs is before noon, after the dew has dried, but before the sun leaches the essential oils that keep the herbs fresh and flavorful.
  • Gather herbs in small bundles and tie with string, rubber bands, or covered wire.
  • Hang them head down in a place that is warm, dry, dustless, well-ventilated, and shady/dark, keeping them out of the sunlight, which fades the color.
  • For potpourri, dry petals and herb leaves (or cinnamon, cloves, and anise) on a flat tray with a nylon screen, allowing the air to circulate around them.
  • Drying usually takes two to three weeks.
  • The best herbs to retain their flavor when dry are: thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay.
  • A general guideline to substitute dried herbs in a recipe that calls for fresh is to use one-third as much dried as fresh. For example, one teaspoon of dried parsley equals three teaspoons of fresh.

 Linda Rakos has a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from Carnegie Mellon University, and more than 30 years of experience in the food service industry. As assistant director of Hospitality Services at Shell Point Retirement Community for over 20 years, she ensures that all menu programs meet nutritional standards and are in compliance with regulatory agency requirements.

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