If you grow your own parsley, you know how delicious fresh parsley can be. But if you've got more parsley than you can use, drying it is a great way to get the most from your harvest. There are several ways to dry parsley. Each method has pros and cons.
Drying Parsley Methods
Parsley is a useful culinary and medicinal herb. Parsley's main medicinal use is as a diuretic, but it's also a natural remedy for stomach upset and gas. Dried parsley may be used to season food or to make an herbal tisane.
The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning after the morning dew has evaporated.
- Before drying parsley or other herbs, rinse them in cool water to remove surface dirt and any lingering garden critters.
- After rinsing, shake the herbs to remove excess water.
- You should also remove any blemished or damaged leaves.
- For each drying method, the process is complete when the parsley is crumbly.
Dehydrators use hot air to gently and slowly remove the moisture from food. They can dry herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Some dehydrators are box shaped while others are rounded. You use them by stacking food or herbs in a single layer upon trays, sliding the trays into the dehydrator, then setting the time and temperature. The trays have tiny holes or perforations in them to allow warm air to circulate.
Dehydrators are easy-to-use and one of the most effective ways to dry herbs. They're also pricey, however, if you plan to dry a lot of herbs or produce they usually pay for themselves.
To dry parsley in a dehydrator:
- Preheat your dehydrator as recommended by the manufacturer. Since machines vary, check the instruction book that came with your specific dehydrator for the proper drying time.
- Spread fresh parsley on the dehydrator trays in a single layer; do not overlap layers or some parsley may not dry.
- Dehydrate the parsley as per manufacturer's instructions. This may take up to four hours.
Oven and Microwave Drying
If you don't have access to a dehydrator or don't want to pay for one, your oven is a good alternative. It's convenient and cost-effective. Even so, ovens and microwaves are notorious for burning herbs. It's important to keep a close eye on the parsley throughout the drying time. To oven-dry parsley, follow these steps:
- Set the oven for 175 to 180 degrees. Keep the heat low or the end result will be burnt parsley.
- Spread the parsley in a single layer on a cookie sheet, being careful not to overlap the sprigs.
- Dry the parsley for 45 minutes up to two hours with the oven door cracked to allow air flow.
Microwaving parsley gets the job done fast, but some people feel the high heat degrades some of the medicinal and culinary qualities of the herb. Still, microwave drying is convenient and economical. To dry parsley in the microwave:
- Spread four or five parsley sprigs at a time on a paper plate in a single layer.
- Microwave the parsley on high for two minutes at first, then in 30 second intervals until dry and crumbly.
Solar drying herbs is an age-old process. It's easy, effective, and economical. All you need is a nice sunny day, a clean sheet or baking tray, and patience. Choose a period when the forecast predicts a temperature of at least 85 degrees, sunshine, low humidity, and no risk of rain or thunderstorms. Depending on where you live, however, solar drying may not be the best option. The process requires less than 60 percent humidity, or the herbs may go bad.
To solar dry herbs:
- Spread a clean sheet on a table (a picnic table works well) and weigh it down with bricks. Alternately, you can use an old baking sheet, cookie sheet or roasting pan. Old window screens make the best solar dehydrating racks because they allow air circulation. If you have an old window screen, place four bricks on the ground to support the corners of the screen.
- Lay the parsley sprigs in a single layer on the sheet, in the pans, or on the screen.
- Put it in an area that gets direct sunlight for part of the day. If you put it in direct sunlight all day, the herbs may lose their color.
- Turn each parsley sprig over once a day until crispy and dry. Depending on the temperature and amount of sunlight, this may take a few hours, or it may take several days.
- Take the parsley inside into a warm, dry place, such as your garage each night so the morning dew doesn't get them wet.
All herbs can be air dried in a warm or hot and dry place. Less tender herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme, do well with this method. Good places to air dry herbs include garages, attics, garden sheds, and pantries. The kitchen isn't ideal since stovetop cooking often produces humidity. The main drawback of air drying is it may take a long time, often up to several days.
Here's how to air dry parsley:
- Gather fresh parsley together into a bundle.
- Using kitchen twine, twist ties, or rubber bands, tie the bundle together on the stem end.
- Use a thumbtack or a nail and hang the bundle in your selected place until the herbs are dry.
- You can also air dry herbs on a drying screen or window screen covered in cheesecloth.
Storing Dried Parsley
No matter what method of drying parsley you use, you must store the dried herbs properly after drying. To do this, follow these steps:
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Spread newspaper over the table where you'll be working.
- Make sure you have a clean, dry container with a tight fitting lid to store the herbs. Mason jars work well.
- With your bare hands, crunch up the dried leaves and discard stems. You may also use a pestle and mortar.
- Funnel the crumbled parsley into your container.
- Label and date the container.
For the best flavor, use dried parsley within one year.
Preserve Your Bounty
Parsley is one of the most useful herbs. If you've taken the time to grow it successfully, drying is a great way to preserve your bounty. All drying methods are effective. How effective depends on where you live, the materials you use, and your patience. Once you've dried parsley, enjoy the fruits of your labor with a cup of parsley tea.