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Drying - The Best Ingredients for… Drying

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks


© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Photo: Oregano © Provided by DKBooks Oregano

The Best Ingredients for… Drying

If you choose top-quality produce, picked at its moment of perfection, and dry it correctly, it will taste superb. These vegetables and fruits are ideal to dry; store in a cool, dark, dry place.


The soft texture and high water content of cultivated and wild mushrooms make them rewarding to dry and cook with. Dry in a very low oven or air-dry.

Borlotti beans

Home-dried beans are extra creamy. Leave on the plant as long as possible, then pick and air-dry. They are ready when shrunk but still plump, not shriveled.


For beer, pick the aromatic mature female flower clusters in early autumn when they are slightly papery and remain flat when squeezed. Hops air-dry easily.


Air-drying is an easy way to preserve chile peppers. Choose firm, glossy, mature chiles that are just turning red. Use gloves when handling the hotter varieties.


Nothing beats a home-dried tomato for flavor. Dry meaty, ripe home-grown or good-quality tomatoes in the oven, or air-dry in a very hot, dry climate.

Sweet corn

Oven-drying is a traditional way to preserve sweet corn. The nutty, brittle cobs are great for making popcorn, or add the kernels ( see Corn and Pepper Relish) to winter soups and chowders.


Halve large, ripe figs, leave small ones whole (if they are hard to peel, dip in boiling water first for 30 seconds to crack the skins), and oven-dry for 36–48 hours.


Choose well-ripened, sweet dessert varieties. They can be air-dried on necklaces of string above a warm heat source, but are usually dried in a low oven.


To oven-dry pears, cut into quarters or eighths and treat like apples. Dried pears retain their grainy texture and perfumed flavor, and are delightful as a snack or added to game and pork braises.


Choose ripe, perfumed fruit, cut in half, remove pits, and oven-dry for 36–48 hours, or slice and oven-dry for 12–16 hours (dip halves or slices in lemon juice first).


Cut apricots in half, remove skins and stones, and oven-dry, cut side up, for 36–48 hours until leathery. Use as a snack or in sweet and savory dishes.

Citrus peel

The peel of citrus fruits is easy to air-dry. Scrub and shave the peel thinly into strips, removing all the pith, and air-dry for 8–12 hours. Use to flavor Moroccan dishes and cakes.

Other ingredients


Cherries oven-dry

Cranberries oven-dry

Grapes oven-dry

Nectarines oven-dry

Plums (all kinds) oven-dry


Black-eyed beans air-dry

Cannellini beans air-dry

Carrots oven-dry

Celeriac oven-dry

Fava beans air-dry

Lima beans air-dry

Mexican black beans air-dry

Navy (haricot) beans air-dry

Parsnips oven-dry

Pinto beans air-dry

Soy beans air-dry


Bay leaves air-dry

Lavender air-dry

Lemon verbena air-dry

Mint air-dry

Oregano air-dry

Rosemary air-dry

Tropical produce

Mangoes, pineapples, and bananas make a great snack if dried in the oven. Choose organic or fairtrade if buying tropical fruits (fairtrade fruit ensures fair wages and working conditions for employees).

Tips for success

Effectively dried vegetables contain no more than 10 percent moisture and fruits 20 percent moisture (weigh before and after drying to check). Store correctly (in a warm place, reduce storage times up to 50 percent), and check regularly.

Drying herbs

Generally, freezing is the best way to preserve herbs, but many dry well if hung upside down in small bunches in a warm, dark, dry, airy place until dry and crumbly. Use as culinary flavorings and to make herbal teas. Oregano—one of the best herbs to dry—is an essential dried ingredient in authentic pizzas, and dried mint is ideal for Middle Eastern dishes. Collect the aromatic seeds from chervil, dill, coriander, cumin, and fennel to add to preserves.

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