Herbs – Drying

What a great day I had yesterday. I spent many hours in my garden, pulling weeds and dead plants, bulking up my compost, pruning the tomato plants, harvesting three (3!) nearly ripe tomatoes and any more cherries, a blond cucumber, a purple cabbage, a red carrot, multicolored dry beans and lots of green herbs. So much cleared, clean space now, awaiting new seeds. Today I am buying canning materials – lids and rings – and I received some scented geraniums. They make my birthday!

These are the herbs (all culinary) in our current drying setup:

It will not do.

~

But about herbs. I’m thoroughly enjoying The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, a Home Manual, by James Green. It is very informative and quite amusing. Even the more esoteric stuff (about the “spirit of the herb,” etc.) is worth the read. (Generally I don’t go for this kind of writing at all, preferring to devise and experiment with my own spirituality.)

I wrote earlier about discovering the surprising ways of bodies of water, and was intrigued to read that water is so important in the herbalists’ kitchen/lab. It is used as a solvent to draw the goodies out of the dried herbs through rehydration.

So drying herbs is the first step. I’ve been struggling with our drying setup. I wanted to build a solar dehydrator, but I realize I can’t control either the temperature or the humidity of the air in it. It would be good enough for culinary herbs and drying tomatoes, etc., but medicinal herbs, being more dose-sensitive, seem to require more control in the drying process. The same goes for moving the drying setup shown in the picture into the attic – which is unused, gets quite hot, and is well-ventilated. Also, the attic contains heaps of semi-loose insulating materials that could be floating around (eek).

So I am eying the electric dehydrators. I would use it for medicinal and culinary herbs as well as fruits and vegetables. I found a used 9 tray Excalibur  on Craighslist  for $80. Is it worth the try? Let me know what you use!

{UPDATE} I never heard form the craigslist seller, but a received nice Amazon gift card which made the Excalibur 3900 quite affordable. Thank you!

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1 Comment

  1. I use an Excalibur, yes! I would absolutely love a 9 tray. If you haven’t already, go for it! That’s an excellent price.

    I appreciate the book recommendation too. I have lots of books on herbal medicine, so am not technically in the market for more. From the pages I saw on Amazon though, I’m first going to see if our county library has it. It looks like something I would be interested in adding to our personal library.

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