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August 2009 Issue
A Guide on How To
by Hendrik Hendricius Kleinwaechter
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With the countless numbers of websites on the Internet telling you of the benefits of treating illnesses the natural and organic way, I am sure that you are dying to know the step-by-step instructions of drying of herbs and spices. After compiling numerous references, we have here comprehensive and rather exhaustive tips on drying natural and organic herbs and spices extracts.

Prior to proceeding to the actual process of drying the freshest herbs and spices that you can find, some words of caution:

  • First, you must understand that the process of drying your very own herbs and spices includes a rather meticulous and even tedious process of harvesting, peeling and removal of roots, the actual process of drying, and storage.

  • Second, the actual process of harvesting involves more than fundamental knowledge on how to collect the freshest herbs that you may find. Believe us -- it is much more than that. Drying of the leaf, roots, and even the blossoms of herbs and even spices involves comprehending the science of horticulture.

  • Third, each herb and spices is created differently - they are special. There is such a special moment for harvesting for all of our known herbs and spices. For example, we are not advised to pick the parsley when the rosemary is also in bloom.

  • Fourth, the best time for picking and collecting herbs and spices are when 1) there is no rain or dew and 2) it is not high noon. In terms of the time, you must harvest your herbs and spices not too early in the morning when most plants are still showered with dew (to prevent molds) and not too late in the first half of your day to pick your produce when the sun is at its highest.

  • Fifth, you must harvest before your herbs show you their blooms. In terms of season, the best time for you to harvest is during late summer.
Now that you know the best time and season to harvest most of your herbs and spices for drying, follow these easy and simple step-by-step instructions in drying your very own herbs and spices.

After picking, prepare the leaf or root of the herb. It is not necessary for you to wash your herbs, unless they have mud all over, as it may absorb moisture that may slow down and delay drying. Should you need to wash them, towel them off before drying.

Everyone's primary goal in drying their selection of herbs and spices is to retain their unique color, fragrant, and flavor. When your specific purpose in drying herbs is to provide a refreshing and cool scent in your home, you must insure that the scent of a fresh bloom of your herb is retained. In cooking, on the other hand, your aim, of course, is for the full body and flavor to be maintained. To achieve this, most people hang clustered herbs to dry and be heated near a window. However, this isn't ideal. In order to achieve your specific goal, you must place your selected herbs and spices in a paper bag and secure the bag at the top using a rubberband. Hang your herbs in this condition.

Check your herbs. A practical way to test whether your herbs are dry enough is when herbs crumble and fall of their stems.

Place the dry herbs in a tight-lidded and dark colored glass jar for up to one year.

Though this guide shows the manual processing of herbs, a number of herbalists practice screen and oven drying of herbs and spices to accelerate this typically long and tedious process.

    Editor's Note: Hendrik Kleinwaechter is the author of herbal supplements - a website dedicated for giving you valuable information on herbal products.


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