Recently I mentioned I’d cut back and dried some lemon balm for tea after I found lots of rogue plants that popped up all over the place.
Here’s how to do it.
Cut the plants back to the ground and leave in situ if you want to keep them or weed them out and compost the roots – but in either case keep most of the leaves, wash them and hang them up to dry.
Make sure you only keep the unblemished leaves on their stalks – the top growth is likely to be most suitable.
After I’ve washed them in cold water, I dry them in my salad spinner (you could also use a clean tea towel).
I then take half a dozen stalks with their leaves and tie them with a longish piece of string which I then loop around our clothes drier.
Don’t be tempted to gather more in a bunch as they won’t dry quickly and efficiently.
You can also dry them on a tray in an airing cupboard or find another way of getting warmish air to circulate around them – blue mushroom crates with holes in can be lined with muslin or kitchen roll and stacked on top of each other to make a drying tower.
This only took a couple of days in our laundry which houses the boiler and gets very warm when the central heating goes on for a couple of hours at night.
Store in a jar and use for tea.
A tea sock or a teapot with an infuser is useful.
You can also dry lemon verbena, sage, parsley or any other herbs in the same way.
Flower petals like calendula/marigold can also be dried on trays lined with kitchen roll or clean muslin.
Just make sure you don’t gather too many stalks and leaves or petals in one go – they need to be spread out evenly so they can dry.
You can also use a dehydrator or a bespoke drying rack.
As well as tea or dried herbs for cooking you can make salves and potions.
My friend, Kate made me some calendula oil from dried marigold petals.