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Drying Herbs in small spaces  RSS feed

 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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I really want to learn about herbs and their uses. I want to dry out as many herbs as I can but am limited to space and a decent location to dry them in. Most of where they can go in our home is exposed to sunlight as our home is bright and airy and catches the sun quite well.

Also can anyone direct me to a resource that can teach me how to make tinctures and the like. I've been doing a home study course to learn about herbs but it's not going too well as I can never find the time to study. I prefer hands on experience but there is no where to learn about herbs where I am.
 
L. Jones
Posts: 80
Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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You can paper-bag drying herbs to keep the light out. A brown paper bag will pass moisture, but not the damaging parts of sunlight - it's kinda like an amber glass bottle. Put 'em in, tie the neck of the bag around the stems, hang.

No attic, or "top of the garage/barn" space? An attic which can manage "airy" to describe it (well ventilated) makes a good place to dry things, and keeps the house/building under it cooler.

If you have a gas oven with a pilot light, a screen to fit the oven shelves and REMEMBERING TO CHECK THE OVEN BEFORE TURNING IT ON works. Put a note on the thing if need be. Burnt herbs are no fun, and very frustrating. Many newer gas ovens don't have a pilot light, though - they use an electric ignitor instead, so you don't have the "gently heated dark space" a pilot-light oven does (and you can't bake in a power outage.)

I use an electric dehydrator for some things because the oven here is electric and 99% of the time, when I need to dry things it's humid as can be. A dehumidifier would be more efficient if I needed to do a whole roomful of stuff, but I have not needed that scale so far.

As far as I recall some of Euell Gibbon's books (check the local library) have descriptions of simple home methods for things like distilling essential oils on a very small scale with pots, pans and teacups (ie, not a still as such.)

The basics of making a tincture is "soak herbs in alcohol, then strain." Depending where you are and what the liquor stores sell Everclear or high-proof vodka are the usual places to start for alcohol if internal consumption is contemplated. You could use rubbing alcohol if all you wanted was something for external use - just don't confuse the two. Probably best to make a whole bottle (the stuff is cheap) of any rubbing alcohol tincture and then put it back in the original bottle, with an added label as to what it's been tinctured with, so as to prevent confusion...
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Thanks L. Unfortunately we live in a top floor flat and don't have an attic or a barn where can dry such things. At the moment I use an electric oven which can get very expensive. I suppose by the time we paid out for the electric bill we may as well by a dehydrator.

My first attempt at making tinctures didn't go well at least i think it didn't. I used brandy instead of vodka and all I could taste was the brandy rather than the flavour of the herb. It was really hard to tell if it had worked. Also the dandelion root one went cloudy. I just don't know how to tell if I'm doing it right or if any of them work. I'm sure they will do.
 
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