Drying Herbs with a Food Dehydrator
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Jenny Anstey
Posted: Before April 1998

I have a food dehydrator. Can I dry medicinal herbs with this gizmo and still retain the vital properties? If not, should all herbs be dried by hanging them upside down, in a cool place, for as long as it takes?

A food dehydrator should work well as long as it operates with low heat. Herbs should not be dried at temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). It should also have good ventilation.

Although hanging herbs is picturesque and smells heavenly, we do not like to dry herbs that way. Dust collects on them and pieces fall to the floor as the herbs dry out. Some recommend enclosing the herbs in paper bags to keep off the dust and prevent shattering, but the paper bag will interfere with ventilation and could encourage moulds to grow before the herbs dry out completely.

The challenge in drying herbs (leaves and flowers) is to get rid of water as quickly as possible without losing the fragrant oils. If the drying temperature is too high the water will disappear but so will the oils. If the temperature is too low too much moisture will remain and the herbs could turn mouldy.

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