Historically, herbs and vegetable leaves were dried in small bundles, hanging in kitchens or spread in open space to Sun dry.
The natural beauty and aroma of this method are certainly enjoyable.
But sometimes you may not have the space or the long drying time needed to dry your herbs and Vegetable leaves.
How To Drying Herbs and Vegetables leaves
Also, it can be difficult to dry your fresh herbs and vegetable leaves without loss due to mold and mildew.
Therefore an efficient way to quickly dry and preserve the goodness of fresh herbs and Vegetable leaves is through the use of a dehydrator.
Oven drying is one way to speed up the drying process, but drying at too high a temperature can sacrifice plant quality, and it can be difficult to maintain the best temperature for drying herbs using a conventional oven.
But when you dry fresh herbs in a dehydrator, you can effectively preserve their medicinal and flavor qualities.
Dehydrating is the process of removing water from herbs or foods. Once they are dried and placed in containers away from moisture, your herbs will last for at least a year.
Below is the Step by Step guide in Drying Herbs and Vegetables leaves using a Dehydrator.
Preheat your dehydrator with the thermostat set between 95 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a particularly humid climate, you may want to set your temperature as high as 125 degrees.
If your herbs and vegetable leaves are damp and full of sand, be sure to gently weep them to remove as much moisture as you can.
Place the herbs and vegetable leaves on the dehydrator trays in a single layer.
Small vegetable leaves can remain on the stems, but removing larger leaves from thick stems will shorten the drying time.
Drying times will vary depending on the moisture content of your herbs. Loose, fresh vegetable leaves and herbs like yarrow and mint will dry more quickly than moisture-filled herbs like plantain or comfrey. Expect 1-4 hours for most herbs.
Check your herbs and vegetable leaves periodically for dryness.
If you are using a stacked dehydrator, place the harder-to-dry herbs on the bottom and the lighter herbs and vegetable leaves on the top. It will be easier to remove the faster-drying herbs and vegetable leaves if they are on top.
Be sure to keep track of which herbs and vegetable leaves are in each tray – it may be difficult to tell them apart when they are dried.
You can dry any combination of herbs and vegetable leaves at one time as the flavors will not blend.
If you are drying roots, scrub the dirt from them, pat dry, and cut into ¼ to ½- inch pieces. The roots will harden when dry, usually within 6 – 10 hours.
The herbs are dry when the leaves crumble and the stems break when bent.
After you remove the herbs and dried vegetable leaves from the dehydrator, allow them to cool before storing to avoid condensation forming.
Advantages of Dehydrators
Drying fresh herbs in a dehydrator allows you to carefully control the temperature and drying time of your herbs and vegetable leaves. There are many choices available for home and industrial dehydrators. The advantages to drying fresh herbs in a dehydrator include:
• Temperature control. In general, the lower the temperature for drying herbs, the better the color, aroma, and medicinal value.
• Faster drying time. Using a dehydrator, most herbs and vegetable leaves can be dried in hours instead of days.
• Drying herbs and vegetable leaves in a dehydrator requires less space than hanging herbs or laying them out on racks and screens.
Some Things to Consider When Purchasing a herb and vegetable leave Dehydrator
• Size and space. You can choose small dehydrators and work with small batches of herbs, or you can go large. Just remember to consider the space you have for using and storing the dehydrator.
• Noise. Some dehydrators can be quite loud during the drying process, especially those with fans that circulate the air.
• Extras. Fan or no fan, temperature control, and timers are some of the choices available when purchasing a dehydrator.
• Cost. Drying fresh herbs and vegetable leaves at home is an effective way to save money. You can spend less than N100, 000 for a simple dehydrator to dry a few small batches or about N3million for a dehydrator capable of rapidly drying large batches of herbs.
Storing Dried Herbs and Vegetable leaves.
Store your herbs and dried vegetable leaves in air-tight containers labeled with the plant and drying date. Although storing whole leaves takes more space, the herbs will retain their color, aroma, and quality better than crushed leaves. Be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight as well.
Drying fresh herbs in a dehydrator is a great way to preserve the aroma, flavor, and medicinal qualities of your herbs. A dehydrator allows you to control the temperature and quickly dry your herbs, reducing damage and spoilage. Once dried, you will have access to your herbs and vegetable leaves throughout the year.