Modern herbalists mix fresh and dried herbs while preparing their products. Fresh herbs add more color, aroma, flavor, and active ingredients, but they also add moisture to the process, which can cause mold. Because of this, the majority of herbalists use freeze dried herbs in their products. Herbs that are dried lose a lot of their moisture but also a lot of their useful characteristics for the finished product. Dried herbs that are produced sustainably and locally are likewise quite hard to come by.
An improved and more affordable method to preserve herbs is freeze drying. While retaining the majority of the color, flavor, aroma, and other ingredients present in fresh herbs, it removes 98 percent or more of the moisture.
The goal of this experiment is to ascertain whether freeze dried herbs may be successfully incorporated into herbal goods and whether there is any discernible improvement in the products' quality. It will also establish whether having access to herbs that are farmed sustainably and regionally is valued by the market.
Fresh herbs should be rapidly processed for freeze drying after harvest or stored in the refrigerator until processing is finished.
If possible, try not to wash your herbs.
Under the plants, using straw or other mulch will help keep the harvest tidy.
Prior to freeze drying, keep the leaves and blossoms as entire as you can. Keep basil leaves intact rather than chopping them, for instance. Keep the sprigs whole if the stems are flexible and fresh, but remove herbs like thyme and oregano from older, sturdier stems. Keep them entire if you plan to utilize them whole.
If you can, isolate each freeze dryer tray to a certain plant. Multiple goods can be placed into the freeze drier on different trays.
Set the freeze dryer's drying temperature between 90 and 95 degrees. Don't make timing adjustments.
By compressing soft leaves and stems for 10 to 15 minutes, you may pack more volume onto trays. Then fill the tray with more product until it is just above the top.
It might be necessary to trim the leaves or flowers into smaller pieces if their size prevents you from packing enough volume onto the trays. For long-term storage, try to limit cutting as much as possible. It could be more expensive to package items for instant resale.
When freeze-drying seeds (or items containing seeds), you might want to add desiccants rather than oxygen absorbers. Because seeds are so difficult to thoroughly dry, if there is any moisture left in them after sealing, your product may rehydrate.
To verify the moisture content of your products before taking them out of the freeze drier, get a moisture meter. Increase drying time as needed.
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