Herb drying in 2 minutes or less


Posted: 02 Dec 2012

Tagged: trick food cooking

The problem

As we reached the end of the fall, and chill began to set in, my wife found us in possession of a great deal of fresh herbs to deal with. Not wanting to waste them, we set to preparing pestos and a number of other preserved herb delights, but a great deal of oregano, thyme, and thai basil remained. I’ve tried herb drying in the past, and a number of issues have prevented me from being much of a fan, most notably the following:

  • Herb drying is a slow process
  • Dry, safe, preferably hidden storage is a must
  • Even with safe storage the herbs may be attacked by bugs/mold

So, what’s the solution to avoiding these problems? As far as I’m concerned, the solution to both numbers two and three is to reduce number one, time, to a minimum. In various books and shows I’ve seen people use methods as varied as purpose-built dehydrators, oven-roasting, or even furnace-filters tied to a box fan (thanks for this one AB), but these all require equipment or trusting one’s oven not to burn them. Not good enough.

The solution

Given that we need to remove the water from the herbs quickly, and preferably without burning it, what do we have left that’s commonly available? The trusty microwave! It’s designed to heat water, and can’t effectively heat the herbs once the water is steamed out of them. As a result, there is very little fuss, and very little supervision required. Heat in 30 second increments till completely dry, rub herbs or grind to desired size, and store. See our before/after below, and the final result in the post pic. Definitely better than waiting weeks for me.

Before: Fresh oregano

After: Dried oregano after 90 seconds

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