Can You Use The Microwave To Dry Fresh Herbs?

Using fresh herbs is one of the most basic pleasures of cooking. Dropping a bouquet of oregano, rosemary, and sage in a bubbling stew and having those aromas hit your nose is the definition of homey. They feel like a primal ingredient, something your ancestors would have picked off the ground as they roamed the woods hunting: simple, understated, but delicious. Whether you grow them yourself or grab them in bunches from the store, you are going to use them over and over again to bring brightness and depth to almost everything you make.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of fresh herbs is that they can easily go to waste. If you buy them from the supermarket, a couple sprigs of fresh thyme for your boeuf bourguignon often leaves you with more than half the package left, and storing fresh herbs improperly can lead to them going bad before you use them. This is where drying can be a big help. You probably already stock your pantry with dried herbs, but as America's Test Kitchen notes, jars of store-bought herbs frequently expire before you use the whole thing. Meanwhile, herbs you dry yourself are extra pungent and flavorful, use up a small amount of leftovers, and can even be mixed together for custom blends like an Italian seasoning. The one problem is time, as it can take weeks to air-dry herbs. So if you want to speed up the process, will a microwave do the trick?

Microwaving is the shortcut for making dried herbs

Yes, that instrument of kitchen convenience known as the microwave will absolutely work for drying herbs. According to Bon Appétit, you do need to go through the trouble of separating your leaves from the stem if it's a woody stem, but once you do, just place the herbs on a paper towel and microwave them for 15–30 seconds at a time. Smaller herbs can take as little as a minute, while bigger leaves like parsley can take longer. Just be careful about going overboard, as Taste of Home says you will want to pay attention to the smell and make sure you don't burn them.

After your herbs are dry, you just want to store them in an airtight container. Farmer's Almanac says your homemade herbs will last about six months, and you can test if they're still good by crumbling them between your fingers and making sure they still have a strong smell. Remember when substituting dried herbs into a recipe that they have a much more concentrated flavor than fresh herbs, so you will need less of them — the standard conversion being about one-third of the dried herbs to fresh. With how good your own dried herbs taste on pizza or in stews, you may never go back to store-bought again.