The Q&A Archives: Drying Herbs

Question: How do you dry cilantro and other herbs? How would I use them when a recipe calls for fresh after I dry them? Are they still considered fresh or dried? Is it 1 teaspoon of dry equals 1T of fresh?

Answer: You can dry herbs by spreading them in a single layer on trays or screens, or hanging them in bundles using rubber bands to hold the stems together, and placing them in a dark, well-ventilated place. Other options include using an electric or solar dehydrator or drying them in the oven set very low and left ajar. The goal is to dry them thoroughly (without cooking them if you use the oven!) and to dry them before they can mold. Once completely dry, store them in an airtight container and keep them in the dark (or use an opaque container) because light will deteriorate the quality. A day or two after packing, check to make sure there is no condensation in the package. If there is, the herbs are not fully dry and should set out to dry for a little longer.

The rule of thumb is to use about a teaspoon dried herbs (homemade or store bought) to replace a Tablespoon fresh, but always taste test before adding the full amount because homegrown herbs can be more flavorful than we are accustomed to buying. Also, if a recipe calls specifically for fresh herbs (particularly if is served without cooking the herb for a long period or as garnish) the dried form may not be appropriate in that instance. Again, you will have to experiment a bit to see what is acceptable to your tastes.

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