Dry fresh herbs in 30 seconds flat – really!

Hello, No-Knead Garlic-Cheese Flatbread!

Nice to see you, Garlic Herb Mac & Cheese.

Ah, Herb & Onion Rolls

What do all of these have in common?

Herbs.

And, unless it’s summer, or you’ve got a windowsill garden, or you live in temperate climes year-round, that means dried herbs.

But it doesn’t have to mean tasteless, drab, stale herbs.

There’s a fast, simple way to preserve your garden-fresh herbs — their flavor, AND their color.

The secret?

Your microwave.

Example A: parsley. Just picked, from my deck-rail planter.

Example B: parsley. Microwaved for 1 minute. DRY AS TOAST, ready to store.

Yet still aromatic, still bright green.

Example A: Tarragon. LOVE this licorice-like herb; it’s great with chicken.

Example B: microwave-dried tarragon.

Simply run thumb and finger along the stem from bottom to top to remove leaves; then crumble between your fingers, and store in a glass jar, ready for your salad dressing, bearnaise sauce… or tarragon chicken. (Check out Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One, p. 262, for a great recipe.)

Microwave-dried mint. Light as a feather; green as the day it was born.

Ready to crumble and use in…

Tzatziki, perhaps?

Honestly, this simple trick works like a charm.

You’ll have to experiment with your own herbs and microwave; I found that the time needed to dry each type of herb varied quite a lot, with mint being the quickest to dry, parsley the slowest.

Times will also vary depending on the quantity of what you cook; I’d suggest a smaller amount of herbs at a time, rather than larger.

Try just 1 or 2 sprigs first, to get an idea of how long it’ll take; start with about 20 seconds, take them out, wait a minute, then see if they’re completely dry.

When you’ve nailed the time, simply lay the fresh-picked herbs in a single layer on a plate, not crowding them. Cook until dry.

That’s it.

Oh, and one last thing: Check this space Wednesday, Nov. 2, for Butterflake Herb Loaf, a truly outstanding recipe from our Baking Sheet newsletter.

And the perfect vehicle for the herbs you’ll be drying soon!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Elaine Hev

    I have been drying herbs in the microwave for a few years now and read through this blog and comments today to refresh my mind before drying some cilantro. I had never had a problem with the herbs overheating until today. Earlier in the day I rinsed cilantro, laid it out with space between each sprig, on paper towel and allowed it to dry naturally. I placed the first small batch, spaced our generously on paper towel, on a plate in the microwave and microwaved it on high for 30 seconds, then checked it, then another 30 seconds. I did three batches this way, each time, tossing the crispy but still green cilantro on a plate, and each time using the same paper towel. I didn’t have a fire, but I was startled to see the paper towel had two tiny burn holes in it! So, I recommend using cloth, rather than paper. Or maybe parchment paper?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That is a bit alarming, Elaine. We wonder if perhaps different kinds of paper towels have different combustion points, so we’d suggest keeping your eye on if you’re not sure about the paper towels you’re using. Whatever base you use, we hope you continue to find the technique helpful! Mollie@KAF

  2. Elaine Hev

    If you buy fresh cilantro to use in a Mexican dish and don’t know what to do with the rest, cilantro pesto is so delicious, it should be outlawed. Just puree a couple of cups of Cilantro with a clove or three of garlic, 1/3 cup of walnuts(or even peanuts), salt and pepper in a food processor. Drizzle oilive oil in the feeder while the cilantro mix processes. (Don’t overdo the olive oil; it’s a paste, not a sauce.) You could add
    a little grated Parmesian afterwards. (Don’t freeze pesto and defrost in microwave if you put cheese in. Defrost naturally. Or just eat it fresh. It’s delicious on crackers or rice cakes, as an appetizer or on thin bread with hummous and/or tomato slices.

    Reply
  3. Dragon

    So, our microwave is half-broken: the turntable doesn’t work, but everything else does. Would this method still work, or do the herbs need to be turning the whole time?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The turntable generally makes for more even cooking, but it may not make much of a difference in this case. To be on the safe side, you could try using the microwave in shorter bursts, turning your herbs halfway through the expected time. Or just give it a try with a small amount of herbs and see what happens! Mollie@KAF

  4. Motownvoice

    I put a sprig in the microwave for 30 seconds.

    It came out mush.

    So I put it in for another 30 seconds and before 10 seconds had ticked by it burst in to flames.

    DO NOT USE THIS METHOD.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sorry to hear that. I’ve had great luck using this method – might be a difference in microwaves, I’d guess? PJH

  5. brenda

    this is a great idea , going to try it, what about celery and other herbs and peppers like jalapeno peppers. Need to put celery aside for winter soups.

    Reply

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