It’s lucky we’ve had a run of fine weather, because the herbs I picked some weeks ago, have been languishing in the garden caravan. Over the weekend we had the coalrange going so I brought in the Sweet Marjoram & Coriander, to process.

dried-coriander-marjoram

Generally to dry herbs you pick them on a sunny day, just after the dew has dried. Most leaves are at their prime as their flower buds are forming, Lemon Balm for instance. I like to cut the Marjoram when it’s flowers are at their fullest, because the flowers are balls made up of lots of small leaflets. These give a good bulk of herb. Sweet Marjoram is one of our favourite cooking herbs, & one we try to dry every Autumn. Here in Hawkes Bay the plants don’t usually survive the Winter.

I spread the cut stems out on cardboard trays, all facing the same way. These go into the caravan, which is warm, dry & dimly lit. Once the stems are pretty much dry I finish them off in the bottom of the coalrange oven, or on very low in the electric oven, or in the dehydrator, although this is very messy. Once crisp I rub the stems through my fingers to take the leaves & flowers off. A fair amount of debris comes too. I pick out the worst of the stalks, then rub the leaves through a large sieve. This gives a good consistency for cooking with. Store in an airtight container in the pantry, out of the light. This method works for most small leafy herbs like Thyme, Savory, Sage etc. Herbs for making teas don’t need to be so finely broken up, once crisply dried, so can be simply stripped off of their stems, crunched up to compact for storage & stored away. If you don’t have a warm, shady place to dry things, you can put them in paper bags & hang up somewhere indoors, don’t cram too much in a bag, the air needs to circulate.

The Coriander seeds were a lot more bulky.On a fine day, I cut the stalks & laid them on a clean sheet, in a basket. I sat these indoors for a couple of days to dry out properly. Once dry I scrunched the seed heads inside the sheet to free them from the stalks. This left a mess of seeds, stalks & fine leaves. These went into the sieve, the leaf matter rubbed through the mesh, & the stems gathered at one side as I shook it. Again store in an airtight container out of the light.  This method works for Fennel, Caraway & seeds on stems you may want to dry for planting. Don’t forget to label them & put a date on.

Advertisements