Drying herbs and chillies is a brilliant way to reduce waste and amp up flavour. Here’s how to do it. How to dry chillies
Chillies are ideal for drying. They’ll look great hanging in your kitchen, and you can get lots of use out of them in cooking. Best of all, it couldn’t be easier to do.
You will need
- Fresh chillies
- Cotton thread
- A large sewing needle
- Make sure your chillies are clean and dry. You don’t want them to be bruised or damaged, as this will allow bacteria to get in, which can cause mould.
- Line up your chillies so you can see how long your cotton needs to be. Allow extra length so you have something to tie and hang them up with.
- Thread the cotton onto the needle and double it up, tying the two ends together – this will ensure that the thread is strong enough to hold all of the chillies.
- Thread the first chilli onto the cotton. Slide it to the end of the cotton (leaving some thread for hanging) and tie it around the stalk, securing with a good knot. This will act as a stopper for the other chillies.
- Thread the rest of the chillies on, one by one, making sure that the needle only goes through the stalk and not the fruit.
- Snip off the needle, making sure that you leave enough cotton so you can hang it. Tie the ends together in a double knot.
- Hang your chillies somewhere warm and dry for one to two weeks, until they are wrinkly and dry to touch. You can either leave them out (because they look gorgeous) and use when needed or keep them in an airtight container.
How to dry herbs
While dried herbs may seem more akin to the 1980s, there are a few occasions when they come into their own. Use them in salad dressings, as the herbs rehydrate in the oil and vinegar (but don’t add any extra moisture, so the dressing keeps for longer), or in soups and stews, as they are more robust and stand up to aggressive cooking.
- Gently wash all of the herbs and give them a good shake to remove as much water as possible.
- Place a clean tea towel on a tray or large plate. Pick the leaves and lay them out onto the tea towel – try to leave a little space between each leaf so the air can circulate. Place the tray somewhere warm, dry, and out of direct sunlight.
- After a few days, your herbs should be dry. Gather them up and store in an airtight container, where they will keep for a good few months.
How to flavour salt
Flavouring salts couldn’t be simpler or more satisfying. You can use almost anything, although we like lemon or orange zest, chilli and parsley. Simply pound whatever fresh ingredients you have using a pestle and mortar – you can grind them all together at once, or separately so you can mix and match while cooking. Next, mix in the salt until it absorbs the colours and flavours, before laying out on a tray and leaving to dry. Give the salt a mix every few hours, as the top layer will dry the fastest. It will take a couple of days for the moisture to become fully absorbed. And remember, the more flavoursome your salts, the less you will need to use.
Find more handy kitchen tips in Jamie magazine every issue, or click here to save on a subscription. Words: Sarah Tildesley; Photography: Sam Robinson.