Drying Herbs and Citrus

Drying Herbs and Citrus

Drying Herbs and Citrus zests and slices in the oven or air drying is a perfect way to preserve fresh ingredients and we will show you how simple it is to do.

This same method can be used for so many products and uses. Products like herbs, zests and slices of lemon, lime and orange, mushrooms, tomatoes, chillis and even rose petals. These can be used in a multitude of ways.

HERBS

I grow herbs on our balcony but when the weather gets colder it is time to prune and preserve! I often dry a mix of various fresh herbs and store together in a jar as a mixed herb seasoning. Also mint is a great one to dry out and use for teas. Once the herbs are dry you can be easily crush in your hands or use a knife to finely chop.

Types of Herbs

Rosemary, basil, coriander, parsley, oregano, sage, dill, chives, tarragon and mint.

Lay out on a baking tray or plate or gather in a bundle and tightly tie string around the storks and leave to dry by hanging in sunny spot.

CITRUSES

Citrus fruits are so great for drying out. Whenever I use citrus fruits and the zest isn’t needed, for example juicing oranges. I will always peel the zest first and use this to dry out. There is so much flavour packed in there and so many ways to add dried zest to your recipes!

Drying out slices of citrus fruits can be used as tea infusions, cocktail and baking and cake garnishes! I store orange slices in a airtight jar and serve with a gin and tonic.

Types of Citrus

Save the zest, rind, peel and slices of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit. Use a garnish, decoration or infusion for teas and cocktails.

CHILLIES

I love to dry out chillies and create my own chilli flakes or chillies in oil.

They will take a while to dry out. I use string to hang them in a sunny spot and leave them for a week or so to air dry. I then will chop up to store in a jar.

MUSHROOMS

For mushrooms, they tend to take longer to dry as they are larger. Have some patience as they will end up lasting you a long time. To re-hydrate the dried mushrooms. Place in a bowl with warm water up to an hour and they will be ready for cooking. Remember to also use the water as stock afterwards as this contains lots of flavour!

Rose Petals

Rose petals are lovely to dry out and use as potpourri around the house. Mix with dried citrus slices for extra fragrance.


If oven drying, I usually will wait until the oven has been on already for other cooking, then lower the heat before adding. Also, as a low oven temperature is needed, I will sterilize jars at the same time as drying in the oven, see how to here. Make sure the jars are dry to avoid adding moisture to the oven.

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Drying Herbs and Citrus

Tips on the best way to dry out your herbs, citrus, chillies, mushrooms and more either through air drying naturally or in the oven

Instructions

Drying in the oven

  • Using the oven is a quicker way to dry out your produce. Preheat the oven between 100°C – 120°C.
  • ensure the products are still fresh, healthy and clean before drying, remove any moisture.
  • For orange or grapefruit slices, thinly slice the fruit and discard the ends
  • Lay out the produce on a baking sheet on a flat tray, spread out as much as possible so they are in a single layer, not touching on an other and place in the oven.
  • Depending on the product the time will differ, for zests and herbs they will take around 1 hour maximum
  • For orange and grapefruit slices, leave them in the oven for around 2 hours. For mushrooms and whole tomatoes will take longer up to 2 hours or more, chillies will take around 3 hours, these will need flipping occasionally to ensure they evenly dry through.
  • Once completely dry, remove from the oven to cool (or simply turn off the oven and leave to completely cool). Once completely cold, transfer to airtight container and label!

Air Drying

  • Air drying is a really easy option if you have small amounts and are in no rush to dry them out. I usually do this for zests and peels and herbs.
  • Ensure the products are still fresh and healthy before drying, for edible products clean them first (for citrus fruits, wash the fruit before zesting or for slices, cut thinly discarding the ends) and pat dry using a kitchen towel to remove any moisture. 
  • For herbs, dry them by hanging by tightly tying string around the storks in a bundle.
  • Lay out the produce on a baking sheet, try to spread out as much as possible so they are in a single layer not touching one another
  • Cover with a tea towel (to avoid dust or dirt) in a well ventilated area, or leave in a spot with good sunlight for a few days or until completely dried.  They will be shriveled and crunchy, ensure there is no moisture remaining and they are completely dry before storing.  
  • Store in an airtight container for future use, these will last up up to around 18 months packed with flavour! 

In the microwave

  • Ensure the products are still fresh and healthy before drying, for edible products clean them first (for citrus fruits, wash the fruit before zesting or for slices, cut thinly discarding the ends) and pat dry using a kitchen towel to remove any moisture. 
  • Lay out the produce on a microwavable plate, try to spread out as much as possible so they are in a single layer not touching one another
  • Cook in the microwave on a medium heat in 20-30 second intervals. Flipping and turning if drying slices of orange and grapefruit.

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