We often get asked for advise in regard to determining the moisture content of herbs. People share their stories of calendula flowers that were carefully harvested, dried and then packed away only to find them a few weeks later covered in mold.
By removing moisture from plants, we deprive bacteria, yeasts and mold the ability to grow and multiply. We are also slowing or stopping internal enzyme-assisted degradation and browning. Herbs properly dried keep well without loosing their active constituents. All the hard work that has gone into harvesting, drying and processing a crop is wasted if the herb is packed away with too much moisture.
Most leaves and flowers contain a water content of 75-90%. The remaining 10-25% provides the structure we see and the chemical components we value so much. Most herbs are dried to a 10% moisture content and this is measured on a daily basis when the plants are in the drying shed. Unfortunately there is no tool yet to exactly measure this content, but we have our senses that help us. Determining this 10% moisture level is done by a tactile evaluation. We also go by the rustling sound that the herbs make when crumbled.
For this process we have done a wee video to help you to determine the dryness of your own herbs. We have greatly valued the guidelines and help by Jeff and Melanie Carpenter from Zack Woods Herb Farm. For more details have a look at their book “The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer”.
In the below video we discuss the dryness of plantain leaves, elder flowers, calendula flowers and mullein leaves in more detail.
Visit our website for our range of herbal teas and herbal product: www.korukai.co.nz