I thought dried parsley was supposed to taste like air. Stale, irradiated and shipped in from who knows where, bottled stuff will never compare to the true flavor of home dried parsley or any other herb for that matter. Here’s how to do it easily.
This year my gardening motto has been: Don’t Waste. I hate wasting food–especially when I spent all summer growing it and loving it fresh.
Whether you are preserving your own harvest or just trying to use up a big bunch of parsley from the grocery store, drying it is a great way to make that happen.
The key is to keep the temperatures used for drying your parsley low–about 95 degrees Fahrenheit or so–that means the oils are preserved and where there are oils, there is flavor!
The gentler, slower approach will make your dried parsley taste much better.
How to dry parsley without a dehydrator
My preferred method for drying parsley is with a (cheap) dehydrator but there are other ways to do the same thing.
This is the Nesco dehydrator I use. See it on Amazon.
Hang to dry
Cut your parsley with several inches of stem. Bundle them and tie together with twine. Hang upside down in a dark, cool place with plenty of air movement. I actually hang mine in my garage on a wooden drying rack and use a fan to move the air.
If you worry about any leaves falling off during the drying process, stick the leaf ends into a paper bag and hang the bag. Check your parsley over the course of a week or so.
In a car windshield (yes, really)
Probably not the most attractive method, lay a single layer of parsley on a window screen, cookie sheet with a baking rack on top, or other surface where air can circulate. Place it in a front or rear windshield (probably best if it’s not a car you drive often) and let the heat of the day slowly dry the parsley.
In the oven (maybe)
This one comes with a big maybe. IF your oven will go low enough to dry the herbs without burning them or evaporating their oils, it’s fine. My oven’s lowest setting is 170 and that’s far too warm for drying. See how low your oven will go before trying it.
The drying process step by step
Step 1: Choose healthy leaves and trim them leaving a few inches of stem if you can. It’s easy to strip the dried leaves off later. Try to harvest your herbs in the morning after the dew evaporates but before the heat of the day dries them out to get the oils at their best.
Step 2: Wash your parsley and check for any bugs or critters, then dry. I use a salad spinner to get my leaves really dry. You can also pat them dry on a towel and let them air dry if needed.
Step 3: Spread out parsley on the trays of a dehydrator in even layers. If you are using another method to dry yours, tie the stems in a bundle to hang or get your trays together for sun drying.
Step 4: Dry until…dry. Good dehydrators will do this in a few hours sometimes. Mine takes about 2 days because it’s a cheap-o. If you are drying yours somewhere else, the process can take a week or longer depending on conditions. If your leaves start to get very brittle when hanging, wrap a brown paper bag over them to keep them from crumbling on the floor.
You do want to make sure the leaves get very dry. There should be no bending or flexibility whatsoever.
How to store dried herbs
Store yours in any airtight container. I hate plastic these days and would recommend glass jars. I use ½ pint (1 cup) jelly jars for mine with a basic flat and ring on them, then store them away from light and heat.
Most people store their herbs near the stove and that’s a huge mistake! Heat will break the oils down so opt for somewhere else. Your herbs will last at least a year and won’t really “go bad”. They may lose their flavor but there’s not a huge expiration date.
How to cook with dried herbs
Use your herbs in any recipe you would have used fresh ones in. Remember that drying parsley and other herbs concentrates their flavor so you will need to use about half as much dried than what the recipe calls for in fresh.
Recipes that don’t work so well with dried herbs
Any sauce or condiment that relies heavily on fresh herbs–like pesto or chimichurri sauces won’t turn out like you hope with dried. You’d be better to make these with fresh and freeze them–works much better.