Using drying boxes to dry and preserve herbs is a well-loved process in the hydroponics community. If you are thinking of how to best preserve your herbs, drying them out and storing them is probably the best way to go about it.
This is our recommendation on which drying box is the best for drying herbs.
This drying box is made in the USA and can be used to dry herbs in just three to seven days. You have the option of purchasing a separate Flower Carbon Filter and the Ozium Odor Neutralizer so you won’t have to deal with the common scents associated with processing herbs. Whatever crops you have at home, you will never go wrong with having a full-sized drying box at your disposal.
Using a drying box is the fastest and most convenient way to preserve herbs.
Whether you are preserving herbs for personal use or for commercial sale, processing your herbs properly is a good idea and can even increase the commercial value of your crops as dried herbs last longer.
Aromatic herbs for culinary use provide better flavor and aroma when dried properly, and guess what – all you need to achieve this level of herbal sophistication is as drying box, like the one we just reviewed – the Magic Herb Dryer.
1. Not All Herbs Are Created Alike – Whether you are processing for personal use or for commercial sale, it would be best to pick out leaves and parts of the herb that are of the highest quality or grade. Avoid processing small or stunted leaves, or plant parts with signs of insect infestation. Remove these from the batch and try to process only the most ideal-looking from your harvest. Not only will your processed herbs look better, they will deliver the best results as well, regardless of their common use.
For drying herbs, you would want to pick out the heaviest and firmest leaves you can find. Ditto for other plant parts like stems and roots. Observe the plant parts of any signs of disease like curled tips, discolorations, and strange smells. Remove leaves and plant parts that don’t pass the test.
2. Harvest On Time – As you continue cultivating herbs, you will notice the best times of the year to harvest. You’d want to harvest when there is plenty of foliage and there is also an abundance of mature leaves.
Each plant would have a specific harvest time, and if you are planning to process leaves en masse, it would be a good idea to create a harvesting and processing schedule, so you are organized and you can deliver your herbs on time, every time.
Dried herbs are a great way to jumpstart your urban farming dreams, and it’s definitely a great way to start your small business while fulfilling your passion in cultivating plants.
3. Avoid Overheating Herbs – The peak of summer is the easiest time for drying herbs. You can even dry herbs by leaving them out on the window sill, where there is plenty of natural sunlight.
The problem with summer however, is that it can be too warm, and too long an exposure to sunlight can actually leave a negative impact on your herbs.
Frazzled herbs will eventually lose some of their important properties, so a drying box is a much better choice since the drying process is slowed down just a bit to give the grower a bit more control. Perfectly dried herbs will provide a sufficient amount of aroma, flavor, and nutrients.
4. Pre-Processing of Herbs – It is imperative that you process herbs only after they have been washed well. Air quality and the frequency of rain in your area will both have an effect on the cleanliness of your herbs.
Living in a dusty city with lots of traffic in the neighborhood can also mean that your herbs need a good wash before processing. If possible, use purified water and gently washes the herbs, taking care to inspect the surface of the leaves/stems/roots and removing caked dirt and insects, should you find them.
Fungi and molds should also be removed if you find a little of these on the surface of the leaves, especially in the area where the leaves attach to the stem.
After washing, gently shake the leaves and remove as much moisture from them as possible. Feel free to use a strainer to remove and drain the water. After draining, you can lay out your herbs and gently pat them dry with a paper towel or a piece of dry, clean cloth.
Another pre-processing method that you might want to try is quickly blanching your herbs in boiling water before processing them. This does not cook the herbs at all because the exposure to the water is so short – what it does is kill bacteria and other microorganisms that may cause problems later on (like mildew).
If you decide to blanch your herbs in boiling water, don’t forget to shake off and drain them again, before patting dry with a cloth or some paper towels. Drying off herbs is really important and if you don’t manually dry them after wetting them, the drying process is going to take longer.
5. The Perfect Bunches – Sprigs of herbs can be tied together in neat bunches, which can then be hanged in your drying box. Aim for moderately-sized bunches of sprigs as too many in one bunch can make drying less effective.
Sprig density will affect the evaporation rate of the herbs, and what we want is for the moisture to find its way out of the plant structure as quickly as possible. After tying the sprigs together, clip them upside down in your drying box and turn on the fans.
Some types of herbs are better processed when they are separated from their stems. Simply observe your current batch and note if the ones with stems are drying as quickly as you’d like. If not, you may remove them from their stems and hang them to dry again.
6. Monitor Your Herbs Daily – Leaving your herbs to dry and not paying any attention to them during the drying process is a bad idea! Ideally you should inspect all your herbs daily.
Inspect them visually and don’t forget to smell them. Any strange smells may be due to molds or fungi, and it’s important to remove affected batches as quickly as you can. Molds in a humid place with no light are a bad, bad situation as spores can quickly spread from bunch to the other.
7. Working With Roots? – Roots are among the most useful parts of a plant, and in terms of medicinal properties, a high level of chemical compounds can be found in the root part of plants. If you have never worked with roots before, here are the steps:
– Wash the roots with water to remove most of the soil or dirt. If you are harvesting from a hydroponics system, there’s no soil to speak off, so just skip this step.
– Snip off the side rootlets with scissors and inspect the health of the roots. There should be no discolorations, odd smells, or signs of disease on the roots.
– Should there be fragments or bits of the substrate on the root structure, use a small brush to remove these fragments.
– Feel free to bunch together a few roots and hang them upside down in your drying box, the way you’d do it if you were drying sprigs or leaves.