Drying Fresh Herbs

The most important part of your cooking is flavor, and what better way to flavor your dishes than with spices and herbs? Dried herbs are incredibly versatile and practically nonperishable. And as any good cook knows, if you want it done right, do it yourself. Check out the guidance below to drying your own herbs excerpted from The Magic of Spice Blends.

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DRYING FRESH HERBS  It’s easy to dry herbs, especially when the humidity is low in winter. Home dried herbs will be far more fragrant and appealing in color than the commercial type, which may have been sitting on the shelf for far too long. Rather than throwing out that spoiled bunch of fresh herbs, use half the bunch fresh and dry the remainder.

The best way to dry herbs, such as these spearmint leaves, is on the branch. Spread the stems out on a metal tray, preferably lined with parchment paper, and leave to dry at room temperature. Turn the stems after a few
days so that they dry evenly.

Or tie them into small bundles and hang to air-dry, which is best done indoors as bright sunlight will cause color fading  and flavor loss. In humid climates, use  an electric dehydrator, drying from 1 to 4 hours.

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The herbs are fully dried when the leaves crumble easily and the small stems break when bent. Sturdy, resinous herbs such as sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and summer savory will dry most easily without a dehydrator.

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the magic of spice blends

A pinch of this and a dash of that, and you’ll be creating distinctive and delectable flavors in every dish!

Today, more than ever, we have access to almost every spice and herb imaginable. But it’s the careful blending of herbs and spices that is the true art of the spice handler.

The Magic of Spice Blends reveals the secrets of creating and cooking with the world’s classic spice blends from seven regions: Africa, the Far East, Europe, India, the Middle East, North America and the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.

Chef Aliza Green guides you through the principles of choosing, working with, and blending spices. Join the fun of creating personalized spice and herb blends and knowing just what goes into them–no ancient, bitter, musty dust here! Find resources on where to purchase great quality herds and spices, even organic, non-irradiated. You can even grow your own and use them to make those wonderful spice blends.

Along with background information on the history, culture, and culinary uses of each blend, The Magic of Spice Blends includes recipes and variations for 50 spice blends and an additional 50 recipes featuring the blends, including: Spicy Moroccan Steamed Mussels with Charmoula (Africa); Vietnamese Chicken Bahn-Mi Sandwich with Chinese Five Spice (the Far East); Swedish Gingerbread Cookies (Europe); Grilled Vadouvan Salmon with Date-Tamarind Chutney (India); Watermelon, Labne, and Mint Salad with Lime-Advieh Dressing (the Middle East); Louisiana Spicy Boiled Crayfish (North America); and Jerk-Spiced Turkey Wings (the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America).