This week, because I am traveling, I am going to bring you a very special article. A long-time Backdoor Survival reader, Sharon Smith, has started a personal blog that chronicles her family’s life living in a cabin while building their own home on raw land. She also blogs about her garden, animals, kids and life in general. It is a great little blog that you can find here: Wayward Pine Farm.
Sharon has given me permission to share what she has written and so today I bring you her step by step DIY for drying herbs for future use.
How to Dry Fresh Cut Herbs for Future Use
Life in my tiny house is winding down…maybe only another year until we move into the house we’re building. One of the things I will continue to use my cabin for is drying herbs. I’ve even written on the joists where each herb is to hang to dry. 🙂
Drying Herbs is really a very simple process.
You can use all kinds of methods to get the desired “dry” result, but I have found the easiest method, and most sure way to get a quality product is to hang them to dry for several weeks from the ceiling. The ceiling is a relatively warm, dry space, and where I hang mine it’s fairly dark and has good air-flow.
I have found other methods take near constant monitoring, because they use heat…and heat can burn the end product if left too long. If you want quality dried herbs to use all winter long, please take a few extra minutes at the beginning, and the rest of the drying method will be hands-free. 🙂
First cut your fresh herbs using sharp scissors. This is the best way, as you won’t end up with ragged ends that won’t dry uniformly, and won’t harm your herb plants, either.
Bundle your herbs together with a rubber band, insert a large paper clip through the rubber band, hook the other end of the paper clip over a thumb tack and push the thumbtack into where you plan to hang your herbs to dry. As the ceiling in my cabin is unfinished, I can use the joists. You may have an unfinished attic with rafters where you can hang them, or even a basement, just be sure that your area is warm but not hot; dry, not humid; and has some air flow…natural or man-made…like a fan.
Let dry for many weeks, until the leaves are brittle. If the area where you’re drying them is dusty, drape cheesecloth over your drying herbs. The cheesecloth will catch the dust, not the leaves of your herbs.
When your herbs are nicely dried place on a paper plate, strip the leaves off the stems, crush or rub between your hands if you need a smaller (finer) end product, and then store in a gasket-ed glass jar. I have discovered that small jelly jars or baby food jars work wonderful for storage. You may also save your old spice jars and reuse them.
Place in a cupboard or on a shelf that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Flavors tend to stay “fresh” for about 6 months to a year. I have found that drying my own herbs takes the guesswork out of how long my dried herbs are good for. God only knows how long they may have been sitting on a shelf in the grocery store before you brought them home.
Fresh herbs recently hung to dry
Here is a picture of my fresh-cut herbs just being hung and the following picture is of my herbs two weeks later. Notice how much more dried out they are in just a couple of weeks. Another week or two and they’ll be ready to place in jars. I can’t wait! It’s a very therapeutic task for me…and the smells are WONDERFUL!
Two weeks later
THE FINAL WORD
Did you enjoy Sharon’s tutorial on drying home grown herbs?
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Bargain Bin: Now that Ebola has reached the US, here are some items to have on hand as a preventative measure in the event things get serious. Note that I am including a couple of amusements as well. See the article: Seven Facts You Should Know About Ebola.
3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduces your exposure to airborne particles.
Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask: Do not confuse P100 masks with the N100s. N100 is what you want since the P100’s are used to filter particulate only and not gasses and vapors. Note that if you are on the small side, you will need to order the smaller version which is the Moldex 2731.
Disposable Protective Coveralls: There are plenty to choose from. I purchased these DuPont White Tyvek Disposable Coveralls With Hood in a medium and it fit me okay with a bit of excess room left over. Shelly needs a large, definitely.
3M TEKK Protection Chemical Splash/Impact Goggle: I read a ton of reviews before settling on these. I was so impressed with both the fit and comfort that I ordered another pair to use as a spare. These are great and the price is right.
Spark Naturals Essential Oils: It is no secret that I prefer essential oils from Spark Naturals. They are well priced and of the highest therapeutic quality. You enjoy an additional 10% off all items, including sale items, when using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.
Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards: This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out. Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness kit.
Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bar none. Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people. This is worth the splurge.
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What are the best oils for your survival kit? Here are my top picks.