The Damsel has a lovely bramble of a marjoram plant at her Cottage by the Mountains.
It’s . . . well . . . large.
Marjoram is one of the Damsel’s favorite herbs, so she wanted to go Old School and dry some for the dead of winter–when the marjoram bush will be um, dead. (Until spring, that is)
So she took a pair of scissors and snipped lots and lots of stems.
Way more than this. Way.
The Damsel laid them out on paper towels (stacked in lots of layers) and thought they’d dry really quickly since the stems are woody and the leaves aren’t at all “juicy.” After a couple of days, she tried to strip the leaves from the stems. Not dry enough.
It’s a well-known fact that the Damsel HATES WAITING. So she was pretty happy to learn that if she microwaved each paper towel with marjoram stems for only one minute, the herbs were swiftly dry enough to strip right off the stems. That’s right. Just microwave for one minute (the paper towel isn’t even necessary) and the herbs are bone dry.
She tried this with snipped chives, too, which are “juicier,” but they were also quite dry in only one minute. Sometimes she let them go a few more seconds to be sure, so that the herbs wouldn’t mold in the jar.
Good news: nearly any herb can be dried this way.
The Damsel did get a little depressed, though. Lots of microwave sessions later, she ended up with:
This was all she got. This little jar would nestle easily in the palm of her hand, so there are maybe 4 tablespoons here. It seemed like there would be so much more when she began. Her dreams of boatloads of dried marjoram were cruelly crushed.
No wonder herbs can be expensive! They shrink a lot.
And that’s why you can use fewer dried herbs than fresh in a recipe. The rule of thumb is 3 to 1. For example, if the recipe calls for 3 teaspoons of fresh marjoram, you only need 1 teaspoon of the dried version.
Also, the Damsel would like you to know that dried herbs lose their flavor over time. Try to use them within a year or two.