Drying Herbs and Zests

Drying out ingredients in the oven or air drying like herbs, citrus zests and lemon, lime and orange slices, mushrooms, tomatoes, chillis and rose petals is a perfect way to preserve these fresh ingredients use them as seasoning, dried herbs or even in teas – it is easy to do and let’s you enjoy these for longer.

Air Drying

Air drying is a really easy option if you have small amounts and are in no rush to dry them out.

Ensure the products are still fresh and healthy before drying, for edible products clean them first (for citrus fruits, wash the fruit before zesting or slice thinly if using whole fruit) and pat dry using a kitchen towel to remove any moisture.

Lay out the produce on a baking sheet, try to spread out as much as possible so they are in a single layer.

Cover with a tea towel (to avoid dust or dirt) in a well ventilated area, or leave in a spot with good sunlight for a few days or until completely dried.

They will be shriveled and crunchy, ensure there is no moisture remaining and they are completely dry before storing.

Store in an airtight container or jar for future use, these will last up up to around 18 months packed with flavour!

Oven Drying

Using the oven is a quicker way to dry out your produce. Preheat the oven between 100°C – 120°C.

Like air drying, ensure the products are still fresh, healthy and clean before drying, remove any moisture.

Lay out the produce on a baking sheet on a flat tray, spread out as much as possible so they are in a single layer and place in the oven.

Depending on the product the time will differ, for zests and herbs they will take around 1 hour however things like chillis, mushrooms and tomatoes will take longer up to 2 hours or more, these will need flipping occasionally to ensure they evenly dry through.

Once completely dry, remove from the oven to cool (or simply turn off the oven and leave to completely cool). Once completely cold, transfer to airtight container and label!

Product Specifics

For the herbs, I grow many herbs on our balcony but when the weather starts to turn colder it is time to prune and preserve! I often dry a mix of various herbs and store together to add as a seasoning; basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary, thyme. Also mint is a great one to dry out and use for teas! Once the herbs are dry you can be easily crush in your hands or use a knife to finely chop.

For whole chillis, they take a while to dry out, I use string to hang them out in a sunny spot and leave them for a week or so to air dry.

For mushrooms, they tend to take longer to dry as they are larger, just have some patience and they can last a long time. To re-hydrate them again for cooking, place in a bowl with warm water up to an hour, remember to also use the water as stock afterwards as this contains lots of flavour!

Citrus fruits are so great for drying out, whenever I use citrus fruits and the zest isn’t necessarily needed, for example juicing oranges or adding slice lemon to my cup of tea, I will always peel the zest before using to dry out; there is so much flavour packed in there and you’ll be surprised how often you can add this to your recipes! Drying out slices of citrus fruits can be used as tea infusions and cocktail garnishes!

Rose petals are perfect to dry out and use as potpourri around the house.

Did you try this recipe? Get in touch and let us know!

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