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Flower And Herb Drying

How to do it the right way

Each herb seems to have its own best drying method; there's no one-size-fits-all system. Most dry best by simply hanging them in bunches in a dry, airy place out of the direct light. To prevent them from getting dusty and to keep their colors best, suspend the bunches inside brown paper bags and hang those. Admittedly, they don't have quite the country decor look of herb bunches, but they'll be cleaner and won't break off and fall to the floor as they dry.

This simple drying method works well for most of the green leaves -- mint, sage, rosemary, etc., and for lavender, but flowers present a different problem. Chamomile and calendula continue to bloom throughout the season, so you don't want to pick whole stems to hang. Cut the flower heads off with scissors and place them on a screen to dry. Calendula will dry faster if you remove the petals (discard the tough centers).

You can dry some delicate plants in a frost-free refrigerator by sealing them in paper bags (not plastic) and forgetting them for a week or so. You'll find parsley and mint crispy-dry and still a beautiful green color.

To dry in the microwave oven, fold herbs in a paper towel and microwave at half power for ten seconds, then at five-second intervals, checking until crisp.