There really is nothing like walking out to your backyard garden and picking some fresh plants for an awesome plant-based recipe you are making. You cannot compare their taste to supermarket "fresh" plants. Herbs at the supermarket are packaged in plastic and they taste mediocre at best. Not to mention they always seem overpriced and almost rotten.
Growing your own plants is a complete game changer. They improve so many great dishes and are stored extremely well if you chose to dry them! Drying is a great option, especially when winter is upon us and we do not want to waste any of our beautiful summer plants. Once dried, you can add them to your favorite soups and casseroles or you could even make your own custom herb blends totally unique to you and your taste. You can add them to salad dressings, pasta sauces, and really anything that you can think of!
Drying out your fresh plants in a dryer is an easy way to get your plants dried in a fast amount of time. We find this method extremely useful especially when harvesting a large amount of plants at once. If you find that the nights are getting colder and you think it is time to harvest all of your plants at the same time, this method is definitely the way to go.
Some of the biggest pros that we have found when it comes to using a dryer is that you can completely control the temperature and the amount of time you chose to dehydrate them. This is very beneficial because you do not want to risk losing any of the flavor or therapeutic aspects of the plants.
Make sure that you preheat your dehydrator between 95 - 115°F before you start anything so that your dehydrator is ready to go when you are.
Cut your plants from your garden in the early morning so that they do not go through any sort of stress due to afternoon sun. Make sure that you are harvesting your plants before they flower. Once they flower, they tend to lose a lot of their flavor and may even become bitter.
If you are growing an organic garden this step may not be as critical for you, but make sure to rinse your plants and get off any bugs or parsley caterpillars (they are sneaky and tend to blend in very well).
Pat your plants dry with a paper towel so that you remove as much moisture as possible before putting them in the dehydrator.
Try to remove any large leaves from the stem. They will dry easier.
Place your plants on your dryer. We recommend dedicating each tray to one type of plant because its much easier to remove an entire tray if one plants tends to dry faster than another. Also, many people advise to lay your plants in a single, thin layer. If you have a huge harvest this might be unreasonable for you. We have tried to fit as many plants as possible on the trays and it dried fine for us. It just took a little longer.
When the leaves begin to crumble when they are touched, they are done! Let them cool a bit before storing.
Although there are many benefits of using a medicinal plants dryer to dry your plants, you should also be aware of the disadvantages of this method. A decent dehydrator that can handle a good amount of herbs will cost around $50 - $100. The one that we use is located here. This dehydrator is awesome because there are 6 drying trays which makes for a substantial amount of plants to be dried at one time. We have even left this on with a timer overnight because sometimes there is just not enough time in the day