How to dry herbs from a polytunnel? Very often, in a foil tunnel, a small area is used to grow herbs under cover. These small plants develop in garden boxes or directly in the soil. Although in limited quantity , they are of great importance for every gardener. Associated with others, they support crops’growth, limiting appearance of pests and pathogens. Eventually, they reach our kitchen, where they are added as spices to dishes. Aromatic tea is also brewed, medical concoctions are prepared, etc. Although fresh ones are much better, they should be dried in order to use them at a later stage.
Harvesting herbs for drying
Herbs are harvested throughout the year, their rapid growth and low requirements make it possible to stock up in just one growing season. Herbs to be stored are harvested at a stage ensuring they retain their aroma and taste for longer. It’s worth remembering to collect before they start to bloom. As soon as this happens, the plant is no longer suitable for the kitchen. It becomes bitter and loses most of its taste. If you are just about to collect flowers, it is worth paying attention to the few exception : chamomile, cornflower, lavender, etc.
To collect herbs intended for drying, it is best to start in the morning, after having ventilated the polytunnel and the dew is gone. However, do not start when the sun is at its zenith. High temperatures and sunrays deprive the plant of essential oils that give them aromas and flavors. You will need sharp scissors or a knife. First, remove damaged and dry parts. In the case of leaves, each of them is cut separately, so as not to damage the stem from which the next can grow. As for stalks, the cut should be done slightly above the ground, taking care not to damage those that are just emerging.
Preparation of herbs for drying
After collecting and washing them with water, herbs should be spread on some absorbent material. It can be bristol, paper towels or a special mesh. Then you can start the drying process. You can leave them as they are or repack into a mesh, tie them in bundles and hang them. Suspended in a ventilated room, they should retain their properties for 18 months.
However, if you do not avail of such a space, there is hope. An oven can come to your rescue. Arrange herbs on baking paper, and at a low temperature (about 30 ° C) with a fan, dry them until they are ready. You can also buy a drying device available on the market. To check if the plants are ready, grab them with two fingers. If they are crunchy, it means it’s time to put them in the jars.
Storage of dried herbs
Dry, but still aromatic, herbs should be stored in airtight containers. Just before cooking, use a mortar and pestle. Non transparent jars or containers will be better as sunlight will not affect them. It is worth checking once in a while whether mold or insect are developing in the jars. As soon as the container is empty, just boil it it and it will be ready for re use.
Herbs under cover
The popularity of herbs does not diminish. They are always easily available in stores. How and when to use them is also more widely known. This leads to herbs becoming more popular in domestic gardens, hobby polytunnels. Store shelves reflect the entire range of products using them as component. Ecological goods, cosmetics, natural medicines, green tea and herbal tinctures are just a few examples of what can be made with a little effort, using herbs from your own garden.