Drying herbs for later use is an age old practice. At the most basic all you have to do is gather the plants and hang them up somewhere to dry. Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of old apothecaries or museums where they show plants hanging in bunches from the ceiling. Perhaps you’ve dried some plants yourself.
However, some plants turn brown if you don’t know what to do, obviously losing the quality that you were looking to preserve. Drying your own Comfrey leaves can have those problems. It dries well when hung, but there are some things that you need to consider when doing this. It’s large leaves hold a lot of moisture and can bruise easily, which can lead to dried brown leaves that aren’t much good.
Here’s an easy way to dry your Comfrey.
You will need:
- tacks (i.e. thumb tacks)
- suitable place in the sun and another suitable place indoors in the shade.
You’re going to hang your Comfrey up. I use tacks pushed into wood (i.e. the deck railing, between trees…). Choose a nice location where they will be in the sun and safe from pests (including pets).
Cut a length of thread that will span the distance and still be manageable. Thread it onto your needle. I usually double my thread up for a little extra strength. Then tie a loop in the end. This loop will go on one of the tacks.
When the morning dew has evaporated from the plants cut your Comfrey, taking care not to bruise the leaves.
Carefully remove the leaves from the stem. Take your threaded needle and push it through the main centre vein of the leaf near where it would attach to the stem of the plant. Continue doing that with the rest of the leaves until you have a nice, but manageable, number of leaves on the thread.
Then tie a loop in the other end of the thread so that you can loop it onto another tack and suspend the whole weight of the leaves and thread. Leave enough room to cut the thread and remove your needle so you can do another batch of leaves. Spread the leaves out evenly along the thread so that they get good air flow around them.
Leave this to hang in the sun all day.
Before the dew comes again in the evening take the leaves down and bring them inside where you will hang them up somewhere safe to finish the process. Some place clean with nice air flow, but out of the sun is good.
When your Comfrey is dry it will crush easily in your hands. You can test its dryness by putting some in a sealed glass jar in the sun. If moisture develops on the side of the inside of the jar, then the Comfrey isn’t quite dry enough.
Store your dried Comfrey in a cool dark place in a sealed glass jar to promote the longest shelf life.
Now you have your Comfrey leaves ready to use even in the winter.
Because of the volume of plants that I now harvest and dry I’ve changed my method from stringing individual leaves on a thread to hanging up bundles of stalks (usually about 6 large stalks in a bundle) using elastic (rubber?) bands. I prefer elastic rather than string or cord because, as the water evaporates out of the plant, the elastic hold on as the stalks shrink in diameter. This saves me a lot of time and drying space although the stalks do hang down farther, taking up a lot of vertical space, than individual leaves do.