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Drying Herbs

The best time to collect and dry herbs is just before they flower. Ideally the herbs should be collected in the early morning on a fine day; make sure that the dew has dried off. Remove any decayed or defective leaves or sprigs.

For herbs with woody stems, tie the stems in loose bunches and hang the herbs up to dry in an open, slightly shady position during dray weather. Alternatively hang the herbs in an open shed where rain cannot damage them. If the herbs are hung in the open, bring the bundles in at night and put them out again the next day, not too early as the dew must not allowed to get to them while they are drying. When the leaves of the herbs are dry and shrivelled, you can place the dried herbs on racks near to a stove or boiler to dry out the stems.

To dry leaves of herbs such as mint, sage, and short-stemmed herbs, place the herbs on wire racks and stand in a warm, half-shaded spot, about 1 metre (3 or 4 feet) above the ground. This will ensure that air can get to all parts of the herbs, the leaves should be placed in single layers on the racks to ensure that all the leaves are exposed to the air.

Another way to dry herbs is to place them on racks or trays, and stand the racks/trays in a sun in a south facing room with the window open during the day.

When the herbs are dry (whichever method of drying is used), strip the leaves from the stems and rub the leaves through a fine sieve, or pound them to a powder in a mortar or similar.

Store the resulting powdered herb in airtight bottles. Do not store dried herbs in paper or cardboard as they will attract moisture and decay.

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