Gardening

How to dry and store medicinal and aromatic plants step by step

This article on how to dehydrate or dry and store medicinal and aromatic plants is the second part of the post When and how to collect medicinal plants .

The Medicinal Plants have properties and curative or preventive qualities, such as those we help maintain optimal functioning immune system and, consequently, in our general welfare. On the other hand, aromatic plants, which can also have medicinal properties, are used in sweet and savory cooking recipes to add aroma, color and flavor to our dishes.

They are worth being able to use them and take advantage of their benefits throughout the year, and a great way to do it is to dry them and store them so we can use them anytime we need them.

How to dry medicinal and aromatic plants

These two groups of plants are collected and stored in various ways, and one of these ways, and perhaps the best known, is drying. Drying consists of the extraction of moisture and liquid from the plant to prevent its rotting and to be able to store it, without losing its basic properties.

First of all, you must choose what type of drying method is best for you :

  • For flowers and aerial parts it is interesting to make bouquets for drying
  • Drying in drawers or racks or in cotton bags is recommended for other aerial parts such as leaves, as well as for bulbs and roots.
  • For seeds and barks, you may be interested in oven drying.

But do not worry, because below we are going to explain how to carry out each drying process step by step.

Dried in bouquets

A traditional method of drying plants with the following steps.

  1. Place 4 or 5 stems of the plant together.
  2. With a cotton thread tie them at the bottom of the stem of the plant.
  3. Later we will place a rope on a wall where the sun does not shine.
  4. We will bind the bouquets placed face down with the cotton thread or with clothespins, leaving space between one bouquet and another for the air to circulate.
  5. We will let them dry for approximately 10-20 days, depending on the plant, and we will see if they are well dry. In that case we can already store them.

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Drying in drawers and racks

It is another traditional method of drying plants, but unlike the drying method in bouquets, it does require physical space and the purchase of the material.

  1. We need to buy or create some drawers with grids at the bottom, so that the air can circulate, or, place some grids on which we will place the plants.
  2. We crumble the plants, removing the stems and leaving the parts that interest us. In the case of drying roots, we will cut them into fine and small pieces and place them horizontally on top of the grid.
  3. We place the grates in a dry area without direct sunlight.
  4. We let the drying carry out for approximately 10-20 days, depending on the plant, and we see if it has been done correctly. If so, we proceed to storage.

Drying in cloth bags

This way of drying aromatic and medicinal plants requires a little more attention on our part, since moisture may appear, but on the other hand it is simple to carry out and requires little space and material.

  1. We will use cloth bags that are 100% cotton, as they ensure that they are breathable.
  2. We place the part of our plants that we are going to use inside the bag and make sure that only a quarter of the bag is full so that the air circulates without problems.
  3. We place the cloth bag behind a door or on a wall, preferably in a shady place. although nothing happens if the sun touches some hours of the day.
  4. We let it dry between 10 and 20 days but every 5 days we open it and remove it, making sure that the plants do not rot.
  5. After 20 days and if the drying has been carried out correctly, we can save our herbs.

Oven dried

It is a faster way but at the same time less safe because some properties of the plant can be lost.

  1. Preheat the oven to 40ºC.
  2. Put a greaseproof paper on the rack and place the part of our plants that we want to dry.
  3. Place the rack in the oven and let it dry for 2 hours with the door ajar.
  4. Check your process every 20 minutes and that it does not burn
  5. Once the result is achieved, the plant can be saved and stored.

These four methods of drying plants are the most common and used because if they are carried out correctly they guarantee that the plant dehydrates and maintains its properties and aroma, which is of interest to us for its later use.

How to store dried plants

Once we have dried the herbs we must proceed to their storage. This process is simpler than the previous one.

  • First, you will have to decide if you prefer to keep your plants in their current configuration or want to chop them or turn them into powder. This can be done with the kitchen robot or by chopping them with a biker. In addition, if you have dried them with a bouquet, you should detach them from it with your fingers to be able to save the part that is used.

 

  • Second, choose the right containers. The best option is to place them in glass jars that close tightly and are dark in color so that sunlight does not damage them. In the case that your boats are transparent, you can cover them with fabrics or place them in a dry and cool place where the sunlight does not reach. Use cans that adapt to the amount of material you have since if there is too much space, air can accumulate and spoil the herbs.

You should take into account the possibility that your plants spoil. To know. You should pay attention to the smell they give off when you open the container where you store them. it should be fresh and free of strange odors. Also their appearance tells us if they are in good condition. The appearance of mold or humidity in the glass jar indicates that the storage or drying was not correct and that it has been damaged. In both cases you should throw away the herbs as they cannot be used.

Finally, keep in mind that drying is only one of the many options you have to store your plants but that perhaps there are others that are more adapted to your needs, such as freezing , maceration, storage with salt or sugar, etc. .

We hope this article has been of interest to you and provides you with valuable information.

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