Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener. I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Herbs are easy to grow and it's a great way to use less salt when cooking. Today we're going to be preserving some herbs so that we can enjoy their goodness all through the winter. Harvest your herbs early in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the heat of the sun has set in this is when the oil that gives the herbs their flavor is at its height. Most herbs have their best flavor when the flower buds appear but before they open.
For annual herbs like basil you can harvest a good bit of the plant rule of thumb is you want to leave about six inches for future growth. If you're growing herbs like dill or coriander for the seeds wait until the seed heads are brown but before they burst open cut the seed pods off the plant and put them in a brown paper bag they'll explode in there and once they do that you'll be able to put them out on a tray to dry. For perennial herbs harvest about one-third of the current season's growth for some it is just the growing tips.
Typically perennial herbs like rosemary can be harvested up until about a month or two before the first frost. You don't wanna harvest them too late into the season because the plant will produce tender growth that won't have time to harden off before the frost comes. The best way to preserve herbs is either freezing or drying them but make sure that they're clean, rinse them off with cold water and then lay them out on a paper towel to dry.
Freezing retains the best flavor for parsley, cilantro, chervil, sweet cicely, chives, tarragon, dill and fennel. An easy way to freeze your herbs is just to put them on a cookie tray that has waxed paper on it put them in the freezer and let them stay overnight, take them out the next day and then put everything in a plastic bag for long-term storage in the freezer. Another way to freeze herbs that is great for adding to soups is to chop the herbs and add them to ice cube trays with water. When you need some of the herbs in your soup just pop a couple of your herbcicles into the pot.
Drying retains the best flavor for mint, thyme, lavender, oregano, marjoram, sage, rosemary, savory, lovage, lemon verbena and lemon balm. A sure-fire way to dry your herbs is in a dehydrator especially for herbs like mint which have a high moisture content and can sometimes mold before actually drying. Set your dehydrator to a low setting, heat over a hundred and ten degrees fahrenheit will destroy the flavorful oils. Another great way to dry your herbs is just to hang them in little bunches, just take a little bunch and put a rubber band around it this is better than string because it will actually retract as the herbs dry. If you're concerned about the dry leaves falling onto the floor you can punch holes in the sides of a paper bag and tie the bag around the herbs. Dry them indoors out of the sunlight because UV rays can make the herbs less flavorful. Warm dry areas are the best places to hang herbs to dry pantries and attics often work well. The herbs can also look pretty when drying in the kitchen and they take about three to eight days to dry. The herbs are properly dry when they crumble easily. Dried herbs should be stored in airtight containers out of the light.
Preserve your organically grown herbs and grow organic for life!