While refrigeration and freezing are the most preferred methods of preservation, drying can do the job much better especially when it comes to herbs. There are a couple of ways to dry rosemary, but my favorite has always been air drying as it retains the color and flavor much better. However, it is advisable to air-dry rosemary away from direct sunlight to avoid bleaching and loss of flavor.
Although dried rosemary does not go bad, it loses its flavor and aroma over time. Therefore, you need to store it in an airtight container to prevent moisture and retain its flavor for longer.
If you plant your own rosemary, the best time to harvest for drying is before flowering when the oils are at their peak. However, there are certain things you need to put into consideration when harvesting rosemary so as not to affect its growth:
- Using a pair of scissors to prune rosemary instead of breaking.
- Pruning the green stem and not the woody one as new growth can only come from the green stems.
- Pruning just above a pair of leaves to increase your yield as it prompts two shoots to grow.
With this in mind, make sure to harvest rosemary after the morning dew just before it starts to heat up. Once you bring it home, preserve immediately using the drying methods below for future use.
Air drying is an old method that still stand out especially hen it comes to drying herbs. Despite being time consuming, it retains color and flavor much better than any other drying method.
Here’s how to air dry rosemary:
- Rinse rosemary under cold running water
- Gently dry using a paper towel
- Tie them in bunches not so crowded for air to penetrate through easily
- Hang them in a well-ventilated area away from sunlight. If you want to dry them outside, put them in a punched paper bag to prevent bleaching and dirt. It will take 14 days for rosemary to dry completely. You will know they are dry when the stem breaks instead of bending.
- Once dry, gently remove the leaves from the stem and put them in an airtight container.
- Store in a dry place away from sunlight.
If you prefer grind rosemary to whole ones, it is advisable you grind it when you are ready to use it as it holds aroma and flavor better when whole.
In the dehydrator
A dehydrator can be a good option if you feel 2 week is a long time to wait for your rosemary to dry up. Dehydrating rosemary in a dehydrator can take a maximum of 4-6hours depending on humidity levels.
Excalibur dehydrator does the job better than any other dehydrator as it has a fan with horizontal airflow which ensures that the leaves dry evenly saving you the hustle of rotating trays during the process.
- Rinse rosemary under cold running water to remove dirt
- Lay them on a kitchen towel to dry then cut if need be to fit on the dehydrator tray.
- Spread them evenly on a dehydrator tray to avoid overcrowding.
- Turn the dehydrator on and set to the lowest temperatures between 95-105°F
- Put the tray in the dehydrator and dry for 4-6 hours. Once dry, the leaves will easily fall off the stem.
- Remove the leaves from the stem and put them in an airtight container.
In the oven
When using this method, you need to be more careful as you can easily bake that rosemary instead of drying it. You want to set your oven to the lowest temperature possible for best results.
This is a more rappid way to dry rosemary compared to the dehydrator method. It will only take 2-4 hours of your time following the procedure below:
- Rinse rosemary under running water to remove dirt
- Pat them dry using a paper towel
- Spread rosemary on a baking tray
- Set the oven to the lowest temperature
- Put the rosemary in the oven and leave it slightly open to prevent it from getting too hot.
- Bake for 2-4 hours.
- Remove the leaves from the stem and store them in an airtight container.
Label the containers before storage to avoid over storage making it lose its potency.