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Harvesting and storing herbs

Putting some away for a rainy day

Post Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:51 am

Posts: 153
Location: Rexburg, Idaho
I am trying to build up my herb plant supply in on my property. It can get to be a big job with a large food garden also. Do you have any tips to share as to how to harvest quickly, cleanly, and store efficiently?
For instance:
Chamomile takes a looooonnng time to pop of the flowers.

I live in a place where the wind blows all the time. Many of my herbs are dusty so they need a rinse before use. And the roots of my Echinacea took a very long time to get clean.

The drying takes up a lot of room too, if put on newspaper on shelves. I understand that it's best to leave the herb in its original form so it will keep it's medicinal properties longer. Is that true? Or is it best to dry and then pulverize to store?

Also, how long does it typically take to dry herbs? I suppose it varies. How do you know when they have dried completely?

What are your thoughts on freeze drying herbs?

How much of nutrients and medicinal properties of plants are lost in drying? freezing?

How do I know if the herbs got too much light or not when dried?
Can I dry herbs in a pillowcase in the sun on my back porch or is that too much sun exposure? (This is important to me because of drying quickly and without dirt getting on them?


Do they all last about two years? If not, is there a chart I can access which shows how long each lasts?

Post Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:09 am
IdahoHerbalist User avatar
Site Admin

Posts: 992
Echinacea: USE THE FLOWERS.

Dry on a screen, they will dry a LOT faster. Keep air moving over them and that will speed the process as well. In a pillowcase the enemy is not Sun, it is HEAT. Another thing that will speed drying is to us a guillotine paper cutter to chop the herbs up some. I have done that and then run them through a food grinder. We use our herbs pretty fast in the clinic though.

We tell people that commercially purchased herbs will last 1 to 2 years. I have 2 year old home harvested herbs that still smell and taste better than newly purchased commercial herbs. Freezing does work (space) and we believe that freeze drying is the bomb. Freeze drying is a pretty expensive endeavor though: purchase and operation.

Post Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:21 am

Posts: 153
Location: Rexburg, Idaho
Terrific. Thanks.
So, if my herbs are in the shade on a hot day then it's still too hot? What are the parameters for drying exactly? I keep reading to put them in a cool dark place to dry.
I thought that herbs were good if they stayed in temperatures under 120 degrees Fahrenheit and so they would be ok outside drying on a hot day. What is the temperature range for drying?
Does light destroy medicinal properties?

Post Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:06 pm
IdahoHerbalist User avatar
Site Admin

Posts: 992
Cooler the better. Darker the better. Mitigated against the TIME it takes to dry. The shorter the time in combination with the previous is best. Humidity in the air affects all of this too. Air movement will be very helpful too.

Post Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:44 pm
Doc Jones User avatar
Site Admin

Posts: 866
annett wrote:
Terrific. Thanks.
So, if my herbs are in the shade on a hot day then it's still too hot? What are the parameters for drying exactly? I keep reading to put them in a cool dark place to dry.
I thought that herbs were good if they stayed in temperatures under 120 degrees Fahrenheit and so they would be ok outside drying on a hot day. What is the temperature range for drying?
Does light destroy medicinal properties?


I think staying under 100 degrees is important. Light is the worst thing in the world for medicine.

Doc

Post Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:35 am

Posts: 7
IdahoHerbalist wrote:
Echinacea: USE THE FLOWERS.

Dry on a screen, they will dry a LOT faster. Keep air moving over them and that will speed the process as well. In a pillowcase the enemy is not Sun, it is HEAT. Another thing that will speed drying is to us a guillotine paper cutter to chop the herbs up some. I have done that and then run them through a food grinder. We use our herbs pretty fast in the clinic though.

We tell people that commercially purchased herbs will last 1 to 2 years. I have 2 year old home harvested herbs that still smell and taste better than newly purchased commercial herbs. Freezing does work (space) and we believe that freeze drying is the bomb. Freeze drying is a pretty expensive endeavor though: purchase and operation.


Exactly.

Post Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:14 pm

Posts: 80
I have a dehydrator that will let me dry stuff at 95 degrees F.
And maybe a little lower but I'd need a thermometer to confirm that.

Is that temperature death to herbs, all herbs/plant material or just some heat sensitive ones?

It sure is convenient.....

Martha
The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas first.

Post Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:31 am
IdahoHerbalist User avatar
Site Admin

Posts: 992
95 is fine. Set it as low as you can. Dry moving air, even if cool, will do most of the drying.


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