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I distinctly remember the first time I saw jars of organic spices on the grocery store shelf. Before then, it hadn’t occurred to me that even the spices we use in our daily cooking are at risk of being plagued with pesticides or genetically modified seeds. That was inspiration for me to try my hand at this DIY project of harvesting and dehydrating organic spices, from my Aunt’s lush herb garden.
Not only does Auntie Suzie have the most incredible herb garden, but she is quite the foodie. I think she has every gadget and appliance known to man in her basement, that is set up like a department store!
Could you imagine all of these housewares at your disposal?
If you have fresh herbs in your garden (or access to them from a friend or family member’s garden), here’s how you can dehydrate and save them for use all year long.
• Freshly snipped herbs
• Dish towel or paper towels
• Colander or sieve
• Parchment paper
• Food dehydrator
• Spice grinder, or food processor
• Empty spice jars
• Labels or permanent marker
1. Take your freshly cut herb of choice, and pull the leaves or needles into a clean bowl. Some herbs are more labor intensive than others. For example, small oregano and thyme leaves take longer to remove than the larger leaves of basil or sage.
2. Once you have removed all stems, brown leaves and flowers, place them in a sieve or colander, and give them a good wash in the sink. Set out the wet leaves on a clean dishtowel, or paper towels, overnight, to dry completely.
3. Next, place your herbs on the tray of your dehydrator. Smaller herb leaves and needles will need a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit the size of the tray, to prevent them from falling through the slots.
Note: The parchment sheet for smaller herbs can be used multiple times.
4. Let the dehydrator work its magic! One night in the machine was enough time for my herbs to fully dry.
5. Use a spice grinder, or food processor, and separately grind each variety. A spice grinder is the same thing as a coffee bean grinder, but specifically used only for spices. Be careful to keep track of your herbs, if you are unsure of their scent. Clean grinder between each different herb.
6. Pour each herb into an empty jar, and label accordingly. Sometimes I write directly on the jar with permanent marker if labels aren’t readily available.
Tips: If you would rather dry your spices by hanging in bunches in a dry space, go for it! You can also substitute a spice grinder for a mortar and pestle.
Enjoy the fresh from the garden taste of your labor of love!
we heartsters – what are your favorite spices?
All photos: Rachel for we heart this
Rachel is a stay-at-home Mom that never seems to be home. She’s a military wife, mother to The Danger Boys and a self-proclaimed craftaholic that enjoys photography, knitting, baking and all things handmade.