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Day 28 #30DaysWild – Drying Wild Herbs and Flowers

A herb is defined as a plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers that are used for flavouring, food, medicine, fragrance or other useful applications. There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantage of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, and that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them. Regular readers will know that we are on a foraging journey this year, with the aim to increase our knowledge of the uses for wild plants growing in our area of the UK.

I should point out that of the herbs I picked today, not all of them are for culinary use, so please don't think that just because you can see them in the basket, that they are safe to eat. As with all foraging it is important to know what you are picking and how to use them safely.

 

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

The general consensus is to harvest herbs and flowers mid-morning before newly developed essential oils have been burned off by the sun, but after the dew has dried. We live in the UK, so to be honest I go more for the approach of harvest when its not pouring with rain!

Chose young healthy leaves without damage, that way they are less likely to already have molds on them, and for flowers, chose ones that are either in bud or just opened.

 

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

Drying Wild Herb and Flower Stems in Bunches

Tie stems of herbs and flowers into bundles and hang upside down, in a warm, dry place, ideally with good air circulation. This may turn out not be the kitchen, due to it's humidity - although for us it works well due to having the Aga in it.

Note as stems dry they will shrink, so it can be useful to use an elastic band, or bag tie that will grip them tightly.

Some people place a paper bag over their bunch to aid with the drying process, and protect from sunlight. This can also be useful if you want to catch any seeds released by your herbs.

 

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

Rack Drying Wild Herbs and Flowers

Rack drying is the method we usually use. As well as herbs and flowers, we also use it to dry citrus slices and peel.

For individual leaves, small sprigs and flowers use a rack such as a cooling rack, and place your herbs on a piece of muslin, tea or kitchen towel. Leave in a warm place, out of direct sunlight to dry - herbs and flowers can take anything from a few hours to a few days to dry, depending on the amount of moisture within them, and the air.

 

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

Microwave drying herbs and flowers

This is the first time I have tried this method, and it is an absolute revelation! To dry herbs in a microwave, strip the leaves from the stems, and place between layers of paper towels on a microwave safe plate. I started by giving my herbs a 20 second blast, followed by 10 second blasts, checking them in between.

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

The plates above show plantain and mint before drying, and the plate below shows all the herbs I successful dried in the microwave; the leaves from plantain, mint, nettle, bramble, and meadowsweet. Flowers appear a bit more hit and miss. My Clover flowers were quite successful, by the honeysuckle not so much. It clearly is a matter of experimenting, but I will definitely be using this method again. None of the items on the plate took more than a minute to dry, which I was astounded by!

 

There are lots of reasons to dry your own herbs - It's fun, it's a way of preserving a glut or something that has a short season, and you know where it comes from and how it's been treated. It also is a great way to take advantages of the hundreds of useful plants that grow wild, that have a multitude of uses once you start to look into them.

Drying plant matter is a great way of preserving it, for both culinary and other craft applications.  All the leaves and flowers I dried today are for a special project which I will be sharing with you shortly 🙂

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14 Comments

  • Reply Ilka

    Love this beautiful craft idea!

    July 2, 2016 at 2:32 am
  • Reply Jessica

    I had no idea that I could dry herbs in the microwave either! I had a bunch last year that I wasn’t able to use in time. So, next time I am able to plant some, this information will definitely come in handy. Thank you so much for sharing!

    July 2, 2016 at 2:04 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Makes you wonder what else you can use a microwave for – will have to do a little research!

      July 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm
  • Reply Linda at Mixed Kreations

    I dry kale,and some herbs in my dehydrator. I have even dried spinach for smoothies. That works well for me just takes quit a while. I will have to try the microwave sometime that would be so much quicker. Thanks for sharing your tips!
    Linda at Mixed Kreations recently posted…How To Make A Primitive LanternMy Profile

    July 1, 2016 at 11:12 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      I’ve never used a dehydrator, Linda. We have an Aga, so can do quite a few things in or on top of that – wouldn’t mind having a play with one though 🙂

      July 2, 2016 at 5:20 pm
  • Reply Lynn Spencer

    I would never have thought to dry my herbs in the microwave! Brilliant…will definitely be doing this with my garden herbs.
    Thanks Sarah…
    Hugs, Lynn

    July 1, 2016 at 10:58 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      I have to admit I was surprised at how quick and effective it is Lynn, I definitely recommend trying it 🙂

      July 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Nikki Frank-Hamilton

    Last year I planted my herbs in pots, or I transferred them into pots, and brought them in for the winter. Expecting to have fresh herbs all year round. But the plants died! ARG! I wish I would have dried them for use over winter, this year I will be following your tips so that I can dry them before they die! Thanks!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…#WAYWOW #55 SUMMER IS SO CRAZY BUSY!My Profile

    June 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      That is so frustrating when you’ve been so organised, Nikki. You could make little herb pillows, to compliment your wonderful large ones 🙂

      June 30, 2016 at 1:42 pm
  • Reply Celeste

    I have never used the microwave to dry herbs. Thanks for sharing.

    June 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      It really did work so much better than I expected Celeste, I’ll definitely be doing it again 🙂

      June 30, 2016 at 1:40 pm
  • Reply Katrin

    Oh this is so beautiful, I want to do this! I love having herbs in the kitchen, fresh or dried they smell lovely and are so beautiful! Great idea!
    Katrin recently posted…Summerly printed tablecloths for Int’l Bloggers Club ChallengeMy Profile

    June 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      It’s a lovely way to spend some time Katrin, really relaxing – I bet your kitchen is beautiful 🙂

      June 30, 2016 at 1:39 pm

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