Monday, July 07, 2008

Drying Herbs

Right now the herbs are all knocking themselves out, wanting to be a part of the daily cooking experience.

A great way to have them handy is to hang them near your cooking area - not to dry, but to use! A twisted honeysuckle branch is used here, but there are many other options.

To dry herbs for use during the winter, gather the herbs mid-morning, when the dew has dried, but before the full noonday sun hasn't hit them and dissipated the essential oils from the leaves.

Put the herbs in small bunches so that there is little chance of mold or spoilage, and fasten with a rubber band. A rubber band will shrink as the stems dry. If there are seeds or small petals that will fall off, place the herb into a paper bag to catch them. Hang upside down.

For small flowers or petals - like chamomile, calendula, rose petals, etc., an old window screen works very well, especially if you can find a place where the screen will have air circulation from both the top and bottom; perhaps a couple of bricks can hold it off the floor. Keep it in a dim, dry area and when they are crispy dry, put them in a jar or bag, marked with the contents and the date. Do not crumble them, but leave them in the wholest form possible so that they'll stay fresher.

No matter how you dry or preserve your herbs, be sure to keep them somewhere that is handy so you remember to use them throughout the winter when they will bring back the flavors of summer.

1 comment:

patti flynn said...

i am absolutely spoiled, living here.
we can grow all our favourite herbs, all year round.'s the middle of winter and i've got all sorts of stuff, planted six weeks ago and flourishing.

so, i've never HAD to dry herbs.
however, there is one i grow JUST to dry...oregano, o and marjoram too.
in their fresh state, neither of them do anything for me, but dried, o YESSSSS, now we are talking.
dried organic oregano is one of my staples for any italian cooking, anything involving tomatoes, or spinach.
something magical happens to the flavour of the stuff when it is dried.

it is far too humid and damp here all year round, to dry anything....but luckily, i have a soap dehumidifier room!
i can live with the faint mixed-EO scent on everything...

your herbs hanging up to dry look just delicious!


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