This spring I harvested a lot of Nettles. Some I made pesto out of, some vinegar and tincture, but most I dried to make nourishing infusions throughout the year. For more information on the many properties and uses of this plants, see my post Spectacular Stinging Nettles. A popular method of drying is to hang the nettles by their stalks in pairs. This year, rather than hanging them to dry, I decided to use my car as a dehydrator and it worked better than I imagined! Like an electric dehydrator, there is good ventilation and protection from direct sunlight (for the most part). And no need to use electricity! The benefits of this method include faster drying time and not cluttering your living space. Downsides include: not being able to use the back of car for a few days and remembering to close the windows at night and if it rains.
I laid out a clean white sheet in the back of my car, and then placed the fresh nettles on it so they were not overlapping. Then I let the greenhouse effect do the rest of the work. I kept the back windows of my car cracked during the day to allow the moisture to exit, but closed them at night due to cooling temperatures (think morning dew). Also, remember to close the windows when it rains! Every time I got in my car, I was delighted by the potent smell of nettles. photo: after 2 days of drying - note the deep green color
It reached near 100 degrees F inside the car on some days, and the Nettles were dry within 2 days. Once they were dry enough that the stems snapped easily, I stored them in a paper bag to allow any residual moisture - which would mold the whole batch in a plastic bag or glass jar - to escape,. I left this paper bag in the car for another day or two just to be sure that all the moisture was gone. Now I have lovely, green, dried nettles for later in the year, and a new favorite method for drying large amounts of plant material.