This year's parsley was more abundant than in previous years. What started off as a few scraggly plants donated by a fellow YMCA member seemed to take off within the past few weeks of somewhat cooler temps, Luckily, tiger swallowtail caterpillars had not discovered it, so today was harvest time.
Parsley can be dried in several ways — air drying, in the oven on low heat for several hours, or in a microwave. I used the microwave method because it was the quickest.Microwave-dried herbs still retain their color and potency and this method is said to be easier on plant tissues than conventional oven drying. That's because the water in the leaves absorbs more of the energy than the plant tissue. The water in the leaves gets hot and evaporates, so the paper towels get damp during the drying process. The plant tissue heats up a little because of the contact with the water, but the water absorbs most of the heat. In a conventional oven, all the plant material gets hot, not just the water.
After washing the leaves, place in a single layer on a paper towel, then cover with another paper towel and set the microwave on high for 60 seconds. If some of the leaves remain soft, increase the time in 20-second intervals until dry.
After the dried leaves cooled, store loosely in air tight containers away from heat and light either in a cupboard or the freezer. The dried herbs will keep for several months. When using dried herbs, release the full flavor by crushing the herb leaves before including in a recipe. When using dried herbs, add to soups and stews during the last half-hour of cooking or follow recipe directions.
The total time can vary according to your microwave and the amount of herbs available. The parsley did not cook or go brown (although it will if done for too long). Keep a watch on it and don't walk away. It may still be steaming when removed from the microwave.