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It is winter here. I wish to purchase lots of fresh Fenugreek leaves and then dry them out for later use.

Questions:

  • What procedure should be followed to dry them out in winter as fast as possible without letting them catch fungus?

  • How much drying out time is expected in winter (daytime temperature 21 C)?

  • Can I use a fan to dry them out? Will that have some adverse effects?

P.S. I do NOT wish to purchase any special machines/tools for drying out herbs.

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Why not simply buy the pre dried variety? –  spiceyokooko Dec 6 '12 at 11:26
1  
@spiceyokooko I will, when you lend me the money. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 6 '12 at 11:29
    
Fair enough. It's the other way round here in the UK, cheapish to buy the imported dried, expensive to buy the fresh! –  spiceyokooko Dec 6 '12 at 11:33
    
@spiceyokooko I found the readymade one to be expensive. Now, that you have mentioned it, I'll compare the price of the fresh one with the readymade dried up. But, I seriously doubt if the fresh one will be more expensive. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 6 '12 at 11:40
    
@spiceyokooko Yesterday I checked the price - The fresh one costs Rs. 14 "per kilogram", and the dried one available in packets costs Rs 21 per "25 grams". –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 14 '12 at 4:41

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The biggest cause of mould or fungus is humidity (moisure, dampness, water in the air) and the leaves by nature will produce this as they dry. After all, the drying process is removing water from the plant.

As long as you dry the herbs in an area with plenty of air circulation (to avoid humidity build up and take away any moisture as the leaves dry) you should be fine.

Make sure the herbs aren't bunched together, spread them out on a tray so the air can circulate around them. Turn them over regularly - every day or every 6 hours or so so they can dry evenly.

Remove any damaged/crushed/torn leaves or stems where mould can get a hold and spread.

Also remember just because the outside leaves stems may feel dry, the insides may not be, so give them longer to dry out than you think.

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Your tips are helpful. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 6 '12 at 17:06

Alton Brown had a great idea to dry out herbs with a fan and some air filters. You can probably substitute any similar products that you find around your house:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/drying-herbs/1278.html

Fan drying should not affect your herbs in any way if you do it right.

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I get "requested video cannot be found" error. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 6 '12 at 3:19
    
That is strange..I can see it just fine..try this: youtube.com/watch?v=zQUsAFhhGhk and watch from 13.12 –  Dharini Chandrasekaran Dec 6 '12 at 15:20

You could also put them in your oven on it's lowest setting with the door cracked slightly. An overnight trip in the oven this way would dry them out I think. Also, something to think about is freeze-drying the herbs with something like dry-ice pellets. Liquid nitrogen would be best but that's not as easy to get.

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