Posts published on October 2012

Product Spotlight: Hang Time Drying Racks

Articles, Newsletter

For centuries it has been common for cooks to harvest fresh herbs from the garden and hang them to dry, preserving them to season dishes during the colder months.  With these Hang Time Drying Rack from Sunlight Supply you can continue this tradition, with six levels of space to carefully cure your garden’s bounty of fresh herbs, flowers, or plant materials.

The Hang Time Drying Rack is made from durable polyester netting with wire frames to reinforce the shelving, allowing them to provide an excellent pop-up, sturdy surface to put inside a closet, grow room, or grow tent. To use, simply take it out of the bag, hang it up and let it drop down.  No assembly is required.  For best results, keep your ventilation system turned on to quicken the drying period without dispersing odors into the outside environment.

Drying racks also allow you to avoid the two biggest threats to damp produce, fungus and rot, as these dry racks are made of a breathable mesh material that allows for quick drying and maximum ventilation.   The carabineer clips also allow you to hang it from almost much anywhere you’d like, which enables you can take this drying system with you quickly and easily if you ever need to travel or change harvesting locations.  Once you are done, simply shake off the drying rack and place it back into its storage container.

Benefits of the Hang Time Drying Rack:

·      Medium is 24″ diameter and large is 32″ diameter.
·      Use to easily dry flowers and herbs.
·      Carabineer clip to make hanging simple.
·      Durable polyester netting.
·      Wire frames to make shelves rigid and sturdy.
·      Easy to use, snap together buckles to quickly add or remove shelves.

How to Dry & Preserve Herbs For Later Use

Articles, Lifestyle

Drying and storing garden herbs is one of the best ways to enjoy their flavor throughout the year, and it allows you to save money instead of buying prepackaged herbs at the supermarket.  Just about every herb can be dried and preserved for later use, however some leafy herbs store better than others.  This process works best with herbs that don’t have high moisture content, such as bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.  Herbs with broad, flat leaves and high moisture content, such as cilantro, parsley, chervil, and basil do not dry as well and are often best when used fresh.

Harvesting Herbs

The best time to harvest herbs is when the oils responsible for their flavor and aroma are at their peak. The longer after their peak you wait to harvest most herbs, the less flavor they will have.  Proper timing will vary depending on the specific herb you are harvesting and its intended use. Herbs grown for their foliage, such as chives, should be harvested before they flower, as flowering can cause the herbs to develop an off-flavor.

Some general guidelines to follow include:

·      Harvest herbs just before the plant flowers to ensure flavors are at their strongest.

·      Harvest plants early in the morning, after the dew dries from the leaves, but before the heat of the afternoon sun.

·      Herb flowers have their most intense oil concentration and flavor when harvested after flower buds appear but before they open.

·      Harvest tarragon or lavender flowers in early summer and then shear the plants to half their height to encourage a second flowering period in the fall.

Preserving Herbs

The most commonly used method for curing herbs is by allowing the leaves or entire stems to air-dry at room temperature.  If the herbs are dirty, first rinse away any debris, shake off the excess water, then spread the herbs out to dry on paper towels or dishcloths and pat them gently until dry.  Remove any dead or damaged foliage, then tie each bunch together into small bundles with string and hang them upside down in a dark, well ventilated room where temperatures typically range between 70-90°F. Be sure to make small, loose bundles and allow for good air circulation around each bunch.  Herb leaves should dry in three to four days under proper conditions.

With herbs that have large leaves and high moisture content, such as basil, mint, lemon balm, and lemon verbena, strip away the leaves from the stems before drying them. Spread these leaves in single layers for quickest drying. Herbs with smaller leaves, such as thyme, oregano and marjoram can be dried with the leaves still on the stems, then strip away the leaves after the drying process is complete.

In humid weather, it may be necessary to place the herbs on a cookie sheet and dry them in an oven at 125°F for several minutes before storing them in an airtight container. Food dehydrators can also be very useful for drying herbs. Follow the directions provided with the dehydrator.

Storing Herbs

After the herbs are completely dried, store them in airtight jars in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If entire stems were dried, remove the leaves and crush or crumble them before placing them in jars.  Be sure to label and date your containers.  It is very important to have the herbs completely dry, otherwise, they may mold. It is best to use dried herbs within a year. As your herbs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.

Drying and storing garden herbs is one of the best ways to enjoy their flavor throughout the year, and it allows you to save money over buying prepackaged herbs at the supermarket.  Just about every herb can be dried and preserved for later use, however some leafy herbs store better than others.  This process works best with herbs that don’t have high moisture content, such as bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.  Herbs with broad, flat leaves and high moisture content, such as cilantro, parsley, chervil, and basil do not dry as well and are often best when used fresh.