Drying your plants properly is a crucial factor in getting the best colour, flavour and yeild out of your herb and flower crop. It is also what determines the final dry weight of your plants.
Each experienced Grower will have their own favourite method of removing the moisture from their herbs and flowers. Some will use racks, and some will hang the plants. While one may prefer a heater system, another will opt for a dehydrator; the ways are many and varied.
The method which I have found to be most effective is to cut each leaf or flower off individually and lay them on a screen. This allows the air to circulate around each of the leaves and flowers. The screens are placed on racks in a dark room. Large amounts of warm, drying air are fanned over and through the racks for about a week.
Within reason, the longer the drying-time the better the final weight will be. This is because most herbs and soft flowering plants are composed of about 85% water. The 15% left, 15 grams out of each 100grams, is all that is left as yield when the plant is processed. The greater the amount of Potassium, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Calcium the plant has absorbed from the nutrient, the greater the residual weight will be. The slower the drying-time the less the chance of forcing salts out of the plant material with the water and so the greater the yield.
When the stems are left on the leaves and flowers as they dehydrate, the moisture has to pass along those stems and, in doing so, it appears to re-hydrate the leaves and flowers as it passes them. In effect the moisture passing down the main stems travels back up to the leaves and flowers at each branch it reaches and then returns to the main stem before moving on down to the next branch.
The actual moisture removing process is only a part of the picture. After the crop has been harvested many of the resins and oils within the plant change their state and mature. This is what adds to the flavour of the fresh dried herb. This maturation process will normally take up to another week. So for the best, most effective, results in terms of flavour and dry weight, it can be seen that a 14 day cycle should be allowed.
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