Edible flowers and some herbs can be delicate, but learning how to dry them properly can ensure you make the most of each harvest.
Some people swear by a commercial food dehydrator, but if you don’t want to go to the expense, there are simple ways to dry your flowers and herbs.
Know What Is Safe to Eat for Edible Flowers
Safety first. Take the time to research what is safe to eat, and what it can be used for. In some cases, you can use the flowers, in others the leaves. Sometimes with herbs, you might be able to use the entire plant. There are many websites online with free information.
If you tend to have seasonal allergies, you might wish to avoid eating flowers. Most people should avoid eating the pollen, in order to avoid allergic reactions and to improve the taste of the flowers.
Good edible options include roses, mums, nasturtium, lavender and pansy.
Know What You Like
Edible flowers and herbs are very much a personal taste and preference. Think about the kind of herbs you use in your cooking these days, and how handy it might be to grow your own. As for flowers, check the descriptions of common edible flowers in relation to taste, whether they are sweet or savory, and so on. Then you can start planning your growing, harvesting and drying.
Choose Flowers and Herbs That Dry Well
Not all edible flowers and herbs dry well, so choose ones you know will be hardy enough to survive the process, and ones you use regularly.
Hang Them Upside Down
Hanging the flowers and herbs upside down on a rack in a cool, dry place will help preserve them. They should be completely dry when you start; that is, with no dew on them. You can tie them into loose bunches with some cotton thread and hang them by the thread from hooks. They will usually take four to seven days to dry completely.
Once they are dried, you can remove flowers, leaves and so on from the stems and harvest the edible parts of the plant. For flowers, cut them in half and clean out any pollen or other inedible parts.
Store your harvest in cool, dry containers. Be sure to label each one so you don’t get any surprises when you use them in cooking.
Using Your Own Oven
Set your oven to 140 degrees F. Line some cookie sheets with paper towels. Lay the herbs in a single row on the towels. Heat for about 30 minutes, then check on them and turn them over. Heat through for another 20 to 30 minutes, but do not allow them to burn, or else all their nutrients and their taste will be gone.
Trim the edible parts and store in a cool, dry place.
Keep Things Dry
No matter which method you use, be sure the flowers and herbs are completely dry before storing them. Otherwise, they will develop mildew and become useless.
There are many recipes that call for dried herbs, so have fun experimenting. As for edible flowers, you will need to do some research, but you should be able to find a range of soups, stews, sauces, salads and desserts. Dried herbs are three times stronger in taste than fresh, so use sparingly.
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