Let’s talk plant preservation

by Christina Molcillo April 27, 2020

Let’s talk plant preservation

One of the most important aspects of growing is the harvest, and for many agriculturalists, this includes getting herbs, fruits, and other plant matter ready for drying. This form of preserving plant goes back as long as people have been farming, and it’s how a lot of the herbs and spices end up in your pantry!

dried herbs

In theory, it sounds simple; gather your herbs, tie them together, hand them up until they’re dry, and boom! You have a fresh batch of your favorite seasoning!   In reality…yeah, it can be that easy. However, we’ve come a long way and the methods of drying and processing herbs has evolved with new technologies, too. Let’s look at five common ways of preserving your herbs for use:

Culinary herbs for drying

Air drying: This is the time-tested method: tie your herbs in bundles and hang upside down. A warm, dry area is best, and you should avoid the kitchen because of the smells, grease, and other contaminants that can get in the herbs. To protect them from dust and unwanted critters, you can wrap muslin, a mesh produce bag, or a paper bag with several holes around the bundle, tying it at the neck. If you want to dry more than a bundle, a Flower Tower Drying Rack will help your air-dried herbs dry, evenly, quickly, and out of the way of the kitchen.

Microwaving herbs

Microwave drying: Microwaves are NOT the best way to dry herbs, but it’s a good modern invention to use if you need dry herbs for a meal, like, right now! To dry herbs in a microwave, strip leaves off of the stems and place the leaves between layers of paper towels. Begin on high power for 1 minute, allow a 30-second rest, and then alternate between 30 seconds on high power and 30 seconds of rest. Most herbs should dry fully in 10 minutes or less.

refrigerator for herbs

Refrigerator drying: Easier than air drying – place your herbs in a refrigerator and ignore them for a few days. (don’t forget that they’re there – just don’t mess with them. Herbs left alone (out of packaging, not bundled) in a cold, dry refrigerator dry crisp and retain their color, flavor and fragrance. The important part is a clean, dry refrigerator – if your refrigerator gets damp (broken or faulty seals), the herbs won’t be crisp and may get moldy.

open oven

Oven drying: Oven-drying is the most labor-intensive, and least energy-efficient way to dry herbs, because they dry best in an oven at 100 degrees – any hotter and they’ll burn to a crisp. Most modern ovens don’t heat up that low, and they don’t afford the herbs the level of air circulation that’s needed. Drying by oven means that you’ll need to get an oven thermometer, start at the lowest setting, then prop the door open, then turn it off, then on again – all while watching the temperature. On second thought, maybe don’t try this…

Drying chillis

Sun drying: Using the sun to dry your herbs works well if you live in a warm, dry place. The ideal food-drying conditions for sun drying are 100 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent humidity or less. When using the sun’s heat to dry herbs, don’t expose them to too much direct sunlight as this could cause bleaching. Sun drying herbs can be as low-tech as placing drying screens outside until your herbs are brittle (don’t forget to bring them in at night – they’ll get wet, and critters may get to them!).

herb storage

After all this drying is done, it’s important that you safely store your dried plant matter – especially if it’s intended for consumption! After they’ve been ground, crumbled, or processed in the manner you prefer to use them, they can be placed in jars with an airtight lid that’s labeled with the name of the plant and the date it’s been put in the jar. Always check the jars for droplets of moisture or mold, throwing out anything that looks like it may be getting moldy.

Boveda

This is an excellent time to invest in Boveda Humidity Packs to add to the jar or any container you’ll be storing your herbs in. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s all science. Mix certain salts with water and together they naturally regulate humidity. Boveda’s patented packaging allows the cleanest, most-purified water vapor to either be emitted or absorbed. Boveda Humidity Packs act on the environment around it. By adding and absorbing moisture, Boveda Humidity Packs keeps the contents of a sealed container at a precise relative humidity (RH) level. Way beyond cool!

Boveda humidity pack

The number printed on Boveda Humidity Packs are the RH%. Whatever product you’re storing calls for specific RH levels, so make sure you do some research to make sure your dried plants are getting the humidity level they need!

Have a hydroponic or garden supply store? Left Coast Wholesale has you covered with wholesale pricing available on Boveda Humidity Packs. If you’re looking for Boveda Humidity Packs near you, call 800.681.1757 today to find a local Boveda Humidity Packs retailer!

 

 




Christina Molcillo
Christina Molcillo

Author



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