Moringa leaf powder costs $15 to $20 per pound, meaning you could save a good chunk of cash by growing this nutritious plant and preserving its leaves. At a growth rate of 10 to 16 feet per year, it’s one of the fastest-growing plants out there. So, you’ll likely have no shortage of leaves.
But some methods to preserve moringa can take lots of time and potentially–create mold, which can quickly ruin your harvest.
I have my moringa seeds germinating at the moment (as well as two dwarf plants getting delivered this week) and I thought now would be as great a time as any to learn how to preserve the leaves.
Let’s take a look at the various methods and tips to process and store moringa leaf powder.
Harvesting moringa leaves
Harvesting moringa is similar to pruning. Simply wait until the branches are eight inches long, and then cut them by half. Take your four-inch branch and strip the leaves off (if you are hang drying, skip this step and keep the leaves on the branches).
When you have your moringa leaves free of branches, remove the yellow or diseased leaves. This will help prevent your leaves from molding.
To remove bacteria and other contaminants, you can wash with a diluted solution of vinegar, saline, or veggie wash. I prefer using grapefruit seed extract, but any of these will work.
From there, use a salad spinner or paper towels to pat them dry before you dehydrate them.
Some say washing isn’t necessary as the drying process can kill most or all of the bacteria. So, if you decide to skip washing your leaves, it’ll probably be fine.
There are various ways to dry your moringa leaves. Once dried, they can last from six months to 1 year.
Depending on how you dry your leaves, there could still be some moisture. If you grind your leaves into a powder and notice there’s some moisture left, you can dry it the same way you dried the leaves.
Not very many people sundry food anymore, and that’s probably due to how easy it is to dehydrate foods in the kitchen.
Sun-drying can be a little riskier than other methods as you could open the moringa leaves up to contamination or insufficient heat. It can also take quite a bit longer.
However, if you’d like to try this method out, then there are two easy ways to do it.
First, you can use your car. Yes, seriously. You can use a drying screen and leave it to sit on your dashboard for a few hours. You can also place the leaves on a cookie sheet with a couple of paper towels covering them.
If you don’t want to use your car, you can use the same drying screen and place it in the sun. The leaves should be dried within three to four hours, depending on how strong the sun is that day.
The most popular method for drying moringa leaves is to use a dehydrator. Unlike other drying methods, you can control the temperature easily.
Many dehydrators on Amazon run from $30 and up, so it’s an affordable option if you want to save some time (it can take as little as an hour per batch). If you’re looking to do larger batches, you might need to spend a bit more to get one with a bigger capacity.
If you’d like to be more resourceful, and not have another appliance taking up space in your kitchen (I don’t blame you, there’s an appliance for everything now), then using your oven is a great option.
To oven-dry, place your leaves on a cookie sheet on no more than 180ºF for two to four hours. Remember, ovens can vary in temperature by ±75ºF, so make sure to use a thermometer if you don’t know your variation.
Lastly, check your leaves often to make sure they aren’t burning.
Hanging to dry
Unlike the other methods, leave (or should I say leaf) the moringa leaves on the branches.
Hanging to dry has to be one of my favorite methods. This old-fashioned and minimalist technique is simply tying your cut branches together at their base and hanging upside-down to dry.
A benefit of using this method is that the moringa’s natural oils will travel from the branch down to the leaves, creating a more potent leaf.
Hanging moringa leaves to dry should take about 5 to 10 days, or until they crumble when you pinch them.
Milling into a powder
If you prefer using moringa powder rather than the dry leaves, this step is for you.
Once you have your dry leaves, you can either use a mortar and pestle, or use a grinder, food processor, or blender.
As mentioned, if you see some moisture in the powder, it’s probably a good idea to dehydrate the powder as you did for the leaves. Although, keep an eye on it, as it might not take as long as the leaves did.
Storing the powder
Once you have your super nutritious moringa powder, storing it in an air-tight container will help you get maximum freshness.
I prefer using mason jars, but plastic bags or containers will work too.
From there, simply add one teaspoon to your foods of choice. Juice, smoothies, soups, and teas are popular ways to add moringa into your diet.
There you have it. Preserving moringa leaves can take anywhere from one hour to several days, depending on the method you choose. While some options are complex, others, like hanging to dry, are easy and can take just a couple minutes of work.
Growing and drying your moringa leaves is a great way to save money and gain the leaves’ many health benefits.