How To Dry Moringa
PDF: How to dry moringa
by Diane Willis
Instead of buying expensive spirulina powder or vitamins, make your own nutritious supplement from your own back yard! Moringa grows very quickly and can be harvested 2 – 3 times per year. One or two trees is enough to supply a family. You can cook the fresh leaves and eat them like spinach. To make a nutrition supplement, it is best to make a powder. Here’s how you do it:
1. Cut off branches of a moringa tree in 2 – 6’ lengths. You can chop it to the ground and it will come back. My tree is 1 ½ years old. At one year old, it was already 15’ tall and rather gangly, so I cut it to the ground and made a powder from it in December before the frost could kill the leaves. In early spring, it formed about 10 shoots, which quickly grew tall and bushy. In late June, I cut it again about shoulder height because winds from Tropical Storm Debbie were breaking the slender trunks, which are very brittle, off at the base. I cut them at shoulder height so that the tree would block the view of a nasty neighbor. To make harvesting easier, the branches should be cut off at about waist level.
2. Hang the branches on an enclosed porch, or somewhere out of the rain and direct sunlight. It is a good idea to have something like a clean sheet underneath to catch leaves that may fall off. In the fall and winter, when the air humidity is relatively low, the branches will dry to crispy perfection in about a week. You will know it is done when you can crunch the leaves into small bits in the palm of your hand.
3. Cut small branchlets full of leaves off the main branches with small pruning shears, leaving the large branches behind. Hold a large pan or have a sheet underneath to catch the branchlets.
4. In the spring and summer, air humidity is high, and the leaves will not completely dry by hanging out. You will have to finish them in the oven on a low heat (not more than 150 degrees). Here I use a solar oven. I put a bunch of branchlets into loaf pans and put a cookie sheet over it to keep direct sun off the leaves and cracked open the glass lid to let moisture escape. I turned the
oven away from the sun so the temperature would not get too hot. The leaves were dry in about 15 minutes.
5. Put the dried branchlets on a large towel or small sheet on a table or counter. Do not try to strip the leaves off each branchlet individually! You will go crazy. Instead, take both hands and knead the branchlets as if you were mixing hamburger. Then pick out large stems, then knead some more and keep picking out the stems. It is okay to leave tiny stems in there.
6. Put the leaves into a blender at medium speed until it becomes a powder. It can then be used in smoothies. I prefer to also run the powder through a sieve because I use it in cooking also. Store in a brown glass or opaque plastic container in a dry cool place. You can add it to stews, soups or sauces (do not overcook, as it will affect vitamin levels!). The powder has almost no flavor and will add protein and vitamins to any dish.