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Old 07-14-2005, 05:23 PM   #11
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My grandmothers used to go out and harvest herbs from the garden several times during the season. All they ever did was tie the stem ends with some string and hang them in the shade from a nail on the back pourch until they were dry, unually only took about a week, then strip the leaves and put them in a Mason jar.

ALTON BROWN's hi-tech (24-hour) method:

1 Square Box Fan
2 long Bungee Cords
4-6 paper (NOT fiberglass) AC/Heater filters (the kind with V-shaped grooves, not flat)
4 bricks (if needed - see below)

Lay the fan down on a counter so that the side that blows out is facing up. Lay a filter on it - with the V grooves going horizontal across the fan. Sprinkle some herbs on it, top with another filter and repeat as necessary up to about 5. Top with a final filter (no herbs on it). Use the bunge cords to firmly attach the stack of filters to the fan (bottom to top). You can now place a brick under each corner of the fan so there is air circulation if it's going to be pointed up - OR - stand the fan up on it's base (you can set this in the window to blow outside if you don't want your house to smell of the herbs you are drying). Turn the fan on to low and let run for about 24-hours (until the herbs are dry).
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:05 AM   #12
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Thanks, RP. So many who don't say where they are from (or their moms or grammas) give solutions to problems that won't work elsewhere. I actually HAVE collected dried sage off of sage plants! But hanging doesn't work in some climates. I still have all that sage, andthink I'm going for a sage/olive oil/garlic paste for the freezer. If it's still beautiful in the fall (once we turn the heat on) I may be able to hang it to dry. My bay tree died this year, but I did successfully hang-dry bay leave enough to last me a year, but that's only because the tree liked it inside rather than outside, so I could dry them in the winter (drying in the winter, when the heat is on inside, is easy. Unfortunately that isn't when most of the rest of my herbs are booming!). I've done herb gardens in Hawaii, Florida, and Illinois. IL by leaps and bounds is the best place to grow most herbs, but they're definitely seasonal. Unfortunately, the herbs you want for your winter soups are looking great in the garden in July, when you don't want to turn on the stove. Hawaii had its own set of herbs, which I miss. Florida was in-between. Actually easier to hang-dry herbs, because you lived with central heat/A/C 350 days a year, creating an artificially dry atmosphere that worked. However, a lot of herbs simply couldn't survive those years when it hit 90 in April and we were still in swimsuits in October (and I lived ABOVE the freeze line). However, my mom had a great bay tree in her yard, convincing me to buy one for mine, which turned into a great little tree that survived 90 degrees AND frost. Herbs are very regional, as anyone who's visited some of the old missions in California can tell you ... ever seen a hedge of rosemary?
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Old 07-15-2005, 05:21 PM   #13
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I live in Southern Illinois, Claire, and what you say is true. It's hard to dry anything outside when the humidity is 93%. I don't know what it is today, but my patio doors are fogged up, and when I went out earlier, it was like stepping into a sauna.
I use a lot of herbs in my cooking, so my plants stay well clipped in the summer. I freeze extra basil and Italian parsley in a paste form to use in the winter.
I am fortunate to have a south-facing, passive solar greenhouse across the front of my house, so I take pots of herbs in to clip from all winter. They all do fine except for the basil...it's a sun & heat lover and an annual, so when the days get short and the weather gets cold, it pretty well spits out the bits.
I'm thinking about that hedge of Rosemary...how lovely!
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Old 07-15-2005, 10:19 PM   #14
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Sorry, Claire - my mom, gammas and aunts all lived within a 120-degree arc starting from 15-miles E of Fort Worth swinging around to the south 50 miles SSW.Even after 6 weeks of 100-F days with no rain it never gets as dry down here as it does where RP lives! Rick lives on the far south side of Denver - I used to live just a little west in Golden. I swear it's so dry up there you cauld make "powdered water"!
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Old 08-30-2005, 05:59 PM   #15
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Be careful about the dehydrator you use. I bought one, and it only has one temp setting, and pretty high at that. I'm guessing it's set to dry jerkies and meats at a high enough temp to be safe. In any case, it crispy crittered a batch of thyme in a flash, and I had to throw it (the thyme) out.

I air dry my herbs by hanging them from the chandelier above the kitchen table. I cut holes in a paper lunch bag, put in a loose bunch of herbs, tie it closed, and string it up. allows air circulation while keeping dust and insects out.
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Old 08-30-2005, 11:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nannsi
Be careful about the dehydrator you use. I bought one, and it only has one temp setting, and pretty high at that. I'm guessing it's set to dry jerkies and meats at a high enough temp to be safe. In any case, it crispy crittered a batch of thyme in a flash, and I had to throw it (the thyme) out.

I air dry my herbs by hanging them from the chandelier above the kitchen table. I cut holes in a paper lunch bag, put in a loose bunch of herbs, tie it closed, and string it up. allows air circulation while keeping dust and insects out.
I had the same experience and called the manufacturer of my dehydrator. They explained I needed one with an adjustable thermostat as herbs need to dry at a lower temperature than the 130F the non-adjustable models reach. They recommended 110F. Higher temperatures cause the flavorful volatile oils to be driven off, leaving relatively tasteless dried herbs.

I also air-dry my herbs with no problem.
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Old 08-30-2005, 11:50 PM   #17
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Wink

There comes to mind an old design for a low temp dehydrator that involves old window screens, shelving cleats, a slat-wood box, and a light bulb inside for heat.

A larger version of the Easy Bake Oven, without the intensity
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Old 08-31-2005, 10:16 AM   #18
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Alton Brown did a Good Eats episode in which he dried herbs using furnace filters, bungee cords and a box fan.

Buy several non-fiberglass furnace filters and lay the herbs on one and top it with another filter and lay herbs on that one, repeat for several layers. Strap the stack of filters to the box fan and turn it on for, I think, 24 hours and the herbs should be dry!
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:46 PM   #19
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If I remember that Good Eats episode correctly, I think Alton "flipped" the filters over (holding them all together) half way though the drying time.
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Old 09-02-2005, 03:50 PM   #20
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I don't remember AB flipping the filters .... or mentioning doing such ... and I've watched that episode about 3 times. I'll have to watch closer next time.
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