Fresh herbs can be stored for a short time. Many medicinal herbs only grow or bloom in certain months, which is why it is necessary to store them properly in order to be able to use their benefits all year round. In this way, it is possible to dry or dehydrate aromatic herbs in order to maintain all their properties and prevent them from being damaged over the months. If you don’t know how to do it, I’ll explain it to you in this article.
If you find it difficult to grow the herbs yourself, be it because of the weather, the season or because you need a larger amount, you can buy them. When buying fresh herbs, make sure that it looks fresh and juicy and, if possible, organic farming.
Delicate herbs such as tarragon, parsley or mint can be stored in a glass of water in a cold place for a few days.
Most herbs – basil, marjoram – are first washed, dried with kitchen paper and then wrapped in damp paper and stored in the refrigerator.
Most herbs retain their properties when frozen: cut the herbs very finely, cover them with a layer of water or oil and store them in freezer bags or in an ice cube container (for approx. 6 months).
Almost all plants retain their medicinal properties intact when dried carefully. This means that you have to collect them at the right time and keep them well when they are not in season. The herbs are collected in a season – for example in spring – and stored all year round until the flowering of the following year. Most of them are effective for 6 or 12 months, after which they will have to be thrown away.
Always dry plants from organic crops, residues of pesticide concentrates or synthetic fertilizers together with the active properties of herbs are not advisable at all.
It is also important when you buy dried herbs that you only buy them from companies that ensure compliance with the environmental impact by promoting organic cultivation and ensuring the sustainability of native plants. This also ensures the freshness of their herbs.
DRY WILD PLANTS PROPERLY
There are various methods to dry the plants you choose, depending on the type of plant, the existing location and the ambient humidity. As general advice, it is best to collect the plants from places off the roads so that they are not polluted.
AIR DRY ON TRAYS
Many plants that do not contain too much water can benefit from very easy drying by placing them on outdoor kitchen and dry paper.
It is best to do this on warm days and cover the plants with a net or net bell so that they do not fly away or attract insects. If they are rather big, you can turn them around a few times. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as the effect can be lost.
If you have little space, you can get a drying rack or build one so that there is good air circulation. It simply consists of stackable frames on which the plants are placed.
These shelves are very useful for plants with a higher water content such as dandelion. If they do not dry well, brown spots can occur on the leaves and they lose their healing power.
DRY IN BUNDLES
Another option is to dry the plants in hanging bundles. For this purpose, they are not joined together into bundles thicker than one finger and preferably tied together with a fine rubber, as the plants lose volume when drying and so that they do not fall out of the bundle.
This dry form is suitable for plants with low water content such as lavender, sage or rosemary.
Hang it upside down on a string (e.g. Clothesline). The perfect place to hang bundles is a ventilated room, if possible in the shade. A garden shed or another well-ventilated, dry and rather dark place are also optimal.
The plants must be collected as soon as they are dry to prevent them from storing dust at the end. Moist plants such as nettles are not suitable for this method, as leaves rot quickly.
DRY IN THE OVEN OR IN THE DRY MACHINE
If the ambient humidity is very high or the plants are particularly thick or moist or you are simply in a hurry, you can dry them in the oven at a temperature of no more than 40 °C, as essential oils and other active ingredients would evaporate.
With frequent drying of plants, fruits or vegetables, it can be a good idea to buy a dehydrator. I use it from the Stöckli brand and am very satisfied with it.
HOW TO STORE DRY PLANTS
When you see that the plants are “crunchy”, they have already dried completely. Then it’s time to cut them with scissors and store them in paper bags or preferably in glass or ceramic jars. Note that molds can develop if they are not well dry. Store them in a dry, dark cupboard to preserve their therapeutic properties.