Cook Books & Magazines

by NICHOLAS AMMATURO on April 29th, 2010

I feel that if you can find one good recipe in a book or magazine, then that purchase was well spent. I am constantly the victim of impulse buys at the checkout aisle of supermarkets. I overlook the candy and gum and go right for the cooking magazines. I usually end up subscribing to them, because lets face it, its the end of physical printing and these companies are giving away subscriptions.I just mailed in my 1 year subscription for Martha Stewart’s, Everyday Food Magazine.

I plan on updating everyone regularly on new books I purchase and new issues of magazines I receive. I will make sure I weed through the junk and share some things that I feel are useful.

Just recently I read in one of the several magazines that I received this month, that you can air-dry your fresh herbs instead of throwing them out. There are so may times that I buy fresh herbs for a specific meal and then I just let the rest go to waste. Rosemary for instance, I never need the whole forest, most recipes call for a sprig or 2 and then I put the rest in the fridge until they wilt. I wonder how much money I wasted on herbs gone bad. I had rosemary left over from Focaccia and I had dill left over from the fresh Dill Pickles that I made the other day, so I followed the instructions and now I just need to wait a couple weeks for them to dry.

Drying Fresh Herbs

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There are two basic ways to learn how to dry fresh herbs: air drying and heat drying. Air drying takes longer, but results in a more flavorful product. Heat drying is quicker, but the addition of heat to the process can, in effect, cook the herb and cause it to lose some of its flavor. Both methods of how to dry herbs, however, result in aromatic dried herbs that can last up to two years if stored properly.

The Air Drying Method

Air drying works best for hearty herbs such as sage, thyme, oregano, dill, and rosemary. More delicate herbs like parsley and basil can be air dried, but much care should be used when handling the fragile leaves and stems, and the herbs need to be checked frequently for the presence of mold.

  1. Make sure the herbs are properly washed and dried, you can tie them into bunches or just leave them as is
  2. Lay them out on a cooling rack or hang the bunches upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. You can use an indoor clothes line, clothes hangers hung from a rod, or even hook the bunches over tacks in a bulletin board.
  3. Leave the herbs to air dry for at least two weeks. It doesn’t hurt to leave them longer than that, so if you are unsure as to whether they are completely dry or not, leave them.
  4. When completely dried, remove herbs from their stems. Store in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag in a cool, dark place.

The Heat-Drying Method

Heat drying works best with the fragile herbs that may not make it through air drying without turning moldy (basil, parsley, cilantro)

To dry your fresh herbs using heat:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Make sure the herbs are properly washed and dried.
  3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats (reusable non-stick baking mats). Spread herbs over the baking sheet.
  4. Bake the herbs until they are completely dry and crumbly; about 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let cool. Store in airtight containers or zippered plastic bags, in a cool, dark place.

Enjoy, I eventually would love to have some fresh herbs in a garden and then repeat this process with something I grew, but for now, this will have to do.

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