A booklet by Leaf for Life called “Drying Green Leaves in the Sun” has some helpful hints about drying leaves and what to do with the leaf powder.
EDN Issue 64 included a report about a moringa project in Senegal. Moringa leaf powder made an enormous difference in people’s health when they added it to their food. Healthful leaf powder can be made from many other green leafy plants in addition to moringa. “Drying Green Leaves in the Sun” contains information about characteristics of the best leaves, the best plant families for leaves, and other leaf crops.
The booklet also has information about how to grow leaves, basics of food drying, making a solar leaf dryer, how to dry leaves and how to use dried leaves. For example, if you are going to store leaf powder for a long time, you can blanch leaves for three minutes in steam or in a microwave oven before drying to improve flavor and to reduce the risk of spoilage.
[Corey Thede, working in La Gonave, Haiti, reports of a nutritional analysis showing that blanching did not appear to affect the nutrition of Moringa oleifera leaf powder compared to leaf powder from unblanched M. oleifera leaves. We assume the same would be true of M. stenopetala. This is good news, because Thede reports that blanched and dried M. stenopetala leaves are noticeably less bitter than those which are not blanched before drying.]
Once it is dried and powdered, store leaf powder in a well-sealed container, away from light, in a cool place. Use it within six months
According to Leaf for Life’s booklet, “About 20% of the flour in most recipes can be replaced with leaf powder. Experiment with how much leaf powder you can add to recipes without an unacceptable effect on flavor or texture.”
Here is a recipe for pasta made using leaf powder: 4 cups all purpose or bread flour (wheat), 1 cup dried green leaf powder, 1 tablespoon salt.
“Mix flour and salt, then add leaf powder and a small amount of water. Knead for ten minutes. Dough should be very heavy, but elastic. Roll the dough out as thin as possible and cut into strips. These can be cooked as is or dried in a dark room, sealed in a plastic bag and cooked when convenient. This pasta cooks somewhat faster than commercial pasta.”
Other recipes in the booklet include Curried Potato Soup; St. Patrick’s Shake, and Leaf Burgers. Cookies that are green and green birthday cakes have apparently been well-accepted.
This booklet can be downloaded from the Leaf for Life web site (http://www.leafforlife.org) – http://www.leafforlife.org/PDFS/english/Drynglvs.pdf.
See the next section (Echoes from our Network) to read about experiences with drying leaves in Latin America, shared by David Kennedy from Leaf for Life.
Berkelaar, D. 2001. Drying Green Leaves in the Sun. ECHO Development Notes no. 73