08 July, 2011
How to Dry Chives & Herbs
At the peak of the growing season, herbs such as chives often produce more than you can use. Drying the herbs allows you to extend the shelf life so you have more time to use them before they go bad. The drying process provides you with home-grown chives well into the winter months, when your herb garden is covered with snow. One tablespoon of chopped chives has only 1 calorie, so you can add flavor without worrying about your waistline. Chives are also a good source of calcium, vitamin K and vitamin C. The dried chives work well to season casseroles and sauces, as well as a topping for dishes like salads or baked potatoes.
Rinse the chives or other herbs lightly, particularly the stems that have dirt on them. Gently pat the herbs dry, being careful not to crush or damage the stems and leaves.
Cut the chives into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces, using a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors.
Heat a food dehydrator to about 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the chive pieces or other herbs on the dehydrator trays. Avoid crowding or piling the chives or herbs on top of one another.
Dry the herbs in the dehydrator for anywhere from two to six hours. The humidity level in the home can affect the drying process, so you may need to dry the herbs longer if it is humid. Test the herbs every hour to check for dryness. They should be dry and crumble easily when they are done.
Store the chives in an airtight container until you need them. Dried herbs -- if stored correctly -- can last for years. When the dried herbs lose their flavor, it's time to discard.
You can dry chives in the oven on its lowest setting. Leave the door open slightly as the chives dry. Another alternative is to let the chives air dry on trays in the sunlight. The herbs also need ventilation as they dry.
Do not store dried herbs in the refrigerator, next to the stove or in a sunny area.
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