Herbs

HEAVENLY HERBS

The following recipes show you why Herbs are so great to dehydrate! With an Ezidri dehydrator you can create dried herbs in no time at all! Dried herbs are incredibly useful in cooking as they have 3 to 4 times the potency of fresh herbs. They're also great for making herbal teas, herbal baths & more!

* How to dry Herbs

* Herb Butter

* Herbal Baths

* Herbal Teas

* Pesto Sauce

* Tabouli

HOW TO DRY HERBS

While you can dry herbs in the open air, drying them using a dehydrator is the most efficient way & produces the highest quality dried herbs. This is because it takes only 1-4 hours, has controlled temperature and good circulation.

And the best part is home-dried herbs are tastier & more fragrant than store-bought ones!

For the best flavour, use scissors to gather leaves & stems on a sunny morning just after the dew has evaporated & before the heat of the sun has dissipated the flavouring oils. The leaves of most herbs should be green & tender, harvested just before the plant begins to flower. After flowering, many herbs have a bitter taste & the leaves are not as aromatic because more energy has gone into the buds. The new leaves at the tip of the plant are usually the fullest in flavour.

Preparing herbs for dehydrating is easy - simply rinse the herbs in cold water & shake of the excess. Remove any dead or discoloured leaves & stems and pat dry with paper towels. Herbs can be dried while they are still on the stem. When completely dry & brittle, simply strip the leaves from the stems.

Spread the herbs sparsely on a Mesh Sheet in your Ezidri dehydrator and dry for 3-6 hours at 35 deg C (Snackmaker - Low), until the herbs are dry & crumble easily.

Don't dry herbs with loads of moist fruit or vegetables. Not only will the increased humidity lengthen the drying time, but fruits & vegetables need to be dried at a higher temperature which will dissipate the herbs' flavouring oils.

To store your herbs, place them into airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. A cool storage temperature will keep the herbs from fading & will hold the flavour better. Because the temperature of your kitchen is likely to be quite warm, keep only small amounts ready to use & the rest in the cool storage area.

Crushing or grinding herbs or seeds for storage will result in a loss of aroma & flavour. Whole herbs have the longest shelf life, ground the shortest. So for the fullest flavour, crush just before using.

With good storage conditions, dried herbs & spices should keep well for 6 months to a year!

Information courtesy of How to Dry Foods by Deanna DeLong & The Dehydrator Cookbook by Joanna White

HERB BUTTER

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp ground dried basil
1 tsp ground dried garlic
2 Tbsp ground dried parsley
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese

Method

Soften butter & mix in the remaining ingredients. Serve over meat, chicken or fish. Or, butter a bread stick with the mixture & heat in a preheated oven 180 deg C for 10 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the crust is crisp and brown.

Recipe courtesy of Drying Food by Ricky M Gribling.

HERBAL BATHS

Herbal baths are very beneficial because the active ingredients of the herbs are absorbed directly through the skin as well as the lungs when breathing.

To make yourself a beautiful herbal bath, simply use 2 tablespoons of herbs and place them in a piece of cotton, tying it off with a piece of string,

Simmer in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes, and then pour the herbal infusion into a warm bath.

Then sit back & relax and enjoy your herbal bath!

Any of the 'tea' herbs can be used, but here are some good examples:

* Juniper - Crush & dry berries. A Juniper bath is great after physical exertion.

* Linden - Using the dried flowers in a bath is said to relieve bronchitis

* Rosemary - If you're looking for an invigorating bath, you can't go past Rosemary leaves.

* Thyme - The leaves of thyme are a good antiseptic.

* Valerian - Dry the leaves for a relaxing bath.

Recipe courtesy of Drying Food by Ricky M Gribling.

HERBAL TEAS

Many people enjoy herbal teas for their soothing or their stimulating properties. Some taste better hot, others are nicest cold. Keep a jug of your favourite cold herbal tea in the refrigerator - it makes a very refreshing drink!

There are so many herbs that can be used for creating deliciously fragrant herbal teas - at the end of the day, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination & taste.

Why not try the following alone, or in combination..anise, borage, comfrey, dill, fennel, lemongrass, minut, sage, sassafras & tansy - to name but a few! Other tantalising additions include cinnamon, cloves, fruit slices, ginger, nutmeg, wild cherries or a slice of rosehip!

The actual drying process for preparing herbs is the same as culinary herbs. To brew your herbal tea, infuse 1 teaspoon (or to taste) of dried herbs in 1 cup of boiling water. Leave for 15-20 minutes, then strain & enjoy!

Here are some invigorating ideas to get you started:

* Bergamot - Use the leaves. The American Indians drank the tea as a remedy for sore throats, colds & chest complaints

* Chamomile - Use the flowers only. This is great for helping you sleep.

* Lemon Grass - Cut young spears of lemon grass into 3 cm pieces before drying. It creates a refreshing tonic.

* Raspberry Star - Crush 65gms of star anise seeds with 125gm dried raspberry leaves. To make a cup, use 1 tablespoon of the tea mix & infuse in boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Strain, then sit back & enjoy!

* Rosemary - Rosemary tea strengthens memory & is also a digestion aid. But be careful, it has a very strong flavour, so use sparingly!

Recipe courtesy of Drying Food by Ricky M Gribling.

PESTO SAUCE

Ingredients

4 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dehydrated garlic
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil

Method

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Add more oil if mixture is too dry - pesto should have the consistency of thickened cream.

Use as a spread, a dip or to create a delicious pasta sauce & enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Drying Food by Ricky M Gribling.

TABOULI

Ingredients

1/2 cup sprouted wheat
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
4 medium-sized tomatoes, blanched & skinned, chopped
1 cup dried parsley
1/2 Tbsp dried mint
1 Tbsp oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Method

Traditionally, tabouli is made with bourghul (cracked wheat), however for something different, this recipe uses sprouted wheat.

Cover 1/2 cup of wheat with luke-warm water, place in a warm, dark place. Add more luke-warm water once a day. Wheat should be sprouted enough in 2 days to make tabouli.

Add remaining ingredients. Mix well & leave for at least 30 minutes before serving. The dried Italian parsley is very suitable for tabouli.

If you prefer the traditional recipe, soak 1/2 cup bourghul for 10 minutes in boiling water to cover. The bourghul absorbs the water, so there's no need to drain. Then simply follow the remainder of the recipe as above.

Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Drying Food by Ricky M Gribling.