Say goodbye to slimy, half-used packets of herbs wasting away in the fridge thanks to this brilliant hack that suburban garden guru Abbi (@makinggardenmagic) shared in an Instagram Reel. Just a few minutes and a microwave can preserve unused herbs, saving money and reducing food waste.
We’ve all been there. A recipe calls for a pinch of fresh thyme or a few sage leaves. We use what we need for the recipe, but the rest withers away in the back of the fridge until the next cleanout day.
Abbi suggests drying leftover herbs in the microwave. All you have to do is separate the herbs from their stems and wrap them in a single layer in a clean, dry kitchen towel. Microwave the herbs on high for one minute to begin, then for about 10 seconds at a time until just dry. Abbi explains, “This is a great method for drying herbs because microwaves mostly heat up water molecules in food, causing the water to evaporate quickly but leaving flavor compounds & color if it’s not overdone.”
This method works best for preserving small batches of hearty herbs such as marjoram, thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary. More delicate herbs like basil can also be dried using this method, but Abbi recommends starting with about 40 seconds of microwaving instead of a full minute.
How it’s helping
Abbi tested drying herbs in an oven, dehydrator, air fryer, and microwave to see which worked best. While a dehydrator works well for large amounts of herbs, it appears the microwave method best retains the herbs’ vibrant color and flavor. “I was completely blown away,” Abbi said after seeing the microwaved results.
Drying your own herbs with this method is a quick and easy way to save money while making the most of your groceries or garden harvest. Preserving food by drying, canning, freezing, or pickling helps reduce food waste while stretching the grocery budget and ensuring you always have flavorful seasonings on hand.
What everyone’s saying
While commenters were delighted by this helpful hack, some noted an important safety tip Abbi mentions in the Reel. Abbi warns not to use this technique with recycled paper towels because they may contain small pieces of metal that could start a fire.
One commenter expressed their surprise, “Gosh, small bits of metal in recycled paper towels? I didn’t know that.”
A list of fire safety tips from the National Institutes of Health advises, “Never use recycled paper products in microwave ovens unless they are specifically approved for microwave use. Some recycled products … may contain minute metal flecks … the interaction between microwaves and the metal can cause sparks and even flames.”
Recycled paper products have many helpful uses, but in this case, stick to a reusable dishcloth to safely preserve your favorite herbs.
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