Drying herbs is an excellent way to preserve their flavor for use in cooking. While there are several ways to dry herbs, using a microwave is a quick and efficient method that helps retain their vibrant color and fresh flavor. This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to dry herbs in the microwave, along with some helpful tips and tricks.
To dry herbs in the microwave, start by washing the herbs and patting them dry. Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate lined with paper towels. Microwave the herbs on high power for about a minute for hearty herbs and 40 seconds for delicate ones. Continue with a few 20-second bursts until completely dry, checking the herbs between each interval. Store the dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Why Dry Herbs in the Microwave?
Drying herbs in the microwave has several benefits. Not only does it produce the most potent dried herbs with the freshest flavor and the brightest color, but it’s also fast and convenient. In fact, microwaves are the most efficient method of heat transfer in your kitchen, allowing you to dry herbs in just a couple of minutes. This is much faster than the time it takes for an oven to preheat or for herbs to dry by hanging.
Moreover, it’s completely safe to dry your herbs in a microwave. Plus, microwave drying uses less energy compared to oven drying, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
What Herbs Can You Dry in the Microwave?
There are many types of herbs that can be dried in the microwave. These include, but are not limited to, sage, thyme, winter savory, basil, tarragon, lemon balm, mint, oregano, lavender, chamomile, dill, parsley, rosemary, fennel, bay leaves, culantro, chervil, lovage, stevia, and curry leaves.
Preparing the Herbs
Before you begin the drying process, you need to prepare your herbs. Start by washing them and patting them dry with a paper towel. Then, pick the leaves off the herbs, discarding any stems and dead leaves. Line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, and spread the herbs in a single layer on the prepared plate. Cover the herbs with a second paper towel or clean dish towel.
Once your herbs are prepared, you can start the drying process. Microwave the herbs on high power. Most hearty herbs will take around 1 minute initially, followed by a few 20-second bursts until completely dry. Delicate herbs will take 40 seconds followed by a few 20-second bursts until completely dry.
Always check the herbs between each interval to make sure they don’t burn. The exact drying time may vary depending on the type of herb and the microwave’s power.
Checking for Dryness
Knowing when your herbs are sufficiently dry is crucial. The leaves should crumble easily when rubbed between your fingers, and the stems should be brittle and break when bent.
Storing Dried Herbs
Once your herbs are dry, you should store them in airtight containers, such as glass jars or metal tins with screw-top lids. Keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place away from heat, moisture, and light. If stored properly, dried herbs can generally be stored for 1-3 years.
While drying herbs in the microwave is generally safe, there are a few safety precautions to keep in mind. Always use plain, unprinted, and untreated paper towels for microwaving, as recycled paper towels may contain metal scraps that can cause a fire. Also, make sure to stir the herbs every 30 seconds after the first minute to ensure even drying.
Drying herbs in the microwave is a quick, efficient, and convenient method that retains the herbs’ flavor and color. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily dry your herbs at home. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this method is sure to become a favorite in your culinary toolkit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I dry fruits and vegetables using this method too?
No, this method is not suitable for drying fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have a higher water content than herbs, which can cause them to cook or burn in the microwave rather than dry.
Should I dry herbs immediately after harvesting them?
Yes, it’s best to dry herbs immediately after harvesting them to preserve their flavor and color. However, make sure to wash and pat them dry before starting the drying process.
Can I dry different types of herbs at the same time?
No, it’s best to dry each type of herb separately. Different herbs have different drying times, and mixing them may result in uneven drying.
Can I use a microwave with a rotating turntable to dry herbs?
Yes, you can use a microwave with a rotating turntable. In fact, it may help ensure even drying of the herbs.
Can I use wax paper or aluminum foil instead of paper towels?
No, do not use wax paper or aluminum foil in the microwave. Wax paper can catch fire, and aluminum foil can cause sparks or a fire. Always use microwave-safe materials.