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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Thinking About Winter Already

by: Chiot's Run
The gardens here at Chiot's Run are full of all kinds of herbs for use in cooking. At the moment, I'm really enjoying using fresh chives, lemon balm, mint, bergamot, oregano and other herbs in my food and beverages.

I'm also thinking about this winter when the garden will be sleeping under a blanket of snow and I'm stocking my pantry with dried herbs from the garden for both cooking and tea. Timing is important when you want to dry herbs for your pantry. If you pick herbs at the wrong time they're not as flavorful. You want to harvest herbs before they start blooming for optimum flavor. You also want to harvest them in the morning right after the dew has evaporated. If you want to harvest herb flowers, like chamomile, you want to pick them when they first open, don't wait until they're fading. I usually dry my herbs in our warm attic or I hang them in the kitchen. I find that they dry fairly quickly without having to use a dehydrator. This saves me on my electric bill.

Growing herbs for your kitchen is a great way to add extra nutrition to your food. Herbs often contain more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Adding lots of herbs and spices to your foods layers in even more healthfulness. So add some herbs to your gardens and make sure you harvest them to stock you pantry.

Do you grow any herbs in your gardens? Do you dry them for the pantry?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal and you can follow me on Twitter.

9 comments:

Kate said...

Heck, yeah. We've got herbs by the dozen: sage, chives, spearmint, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, lemon balm, anise hyssop and lavender. That's just the perennials, though I keep hoping I'll manage to overwinter a rosemary one of these years. I only dry the oregano, thyme, spearmint, and lemon balm (for tea). I make chive and sage butter later in the year. The rest I haven't found a good way to store for winter use as their character seems very much altered by drying.

Sense of Home said...

I grow lots of herbs and absolutely love them. I love the way they look in the garden and I use the herbs both fresh and dried in my cooking.

Gremlina said...

we have many herbs. my favorites to save are the savory ones, like basil & oregano. But we've got many medicinal varieties as well, like feverfew, yarrow, comfreys & a few others...

Laura @ Getting There said...

I grow parsley, chives, mint, and lemon balm. I've never dried any of these for winter, but this year I am going to try to do this.

livinginalocalzone said...

This year I'm focusing on herbs mostly in my garden: oregano, various kinds of mint, chives, basil, rosemary, thyme, lemon-balm, coriander, chamomile, lavender, sage, and a few others. They are absolutely delicious to add into my meals, and I find I am coming up with new combinations that I would otherwise never have considered, simply to use all the wonderful herbs.

I still am trying to figure out the best way to dry them - in the dehydrator? I want to make sure that they are thoroughly dry so they don't mold, etc. Any tips? Are there other ways to preserve them?

notesfromthefrugaltrenches.com said...

Great tips! I love herbs but have not yet grown my own in any great quantity!

Chiot's Run said...

Living in a Local Zone:
I tie them in smaller bundles and hang them in the attic which is usually around 90 on a warm summer day. I do have a window that I open up there for a breeze. It usually takes a few weeks. I have also hung them to dry in my kitchen with great success, it just takes a little longer. Just make sure the bundles aren't too large, usually mine are 6-8 stems in each bundle.

To test for dryness I usually crunch the upper stems where they're tied together, if those break easily they're dry. If they still bend they're not dry yet and need a while longer.

For storage I usually just put the whole branches in a big canning jar then crush off leaves as needed. You could however remove the leaves after they've dried and crush them into a small jar so they don't take up much space. I store mine successfully in a glass jar with a tight lid till I harvest the next season.

Laryssa Herbert said...

I'm patiently waiting for my herbs to be ready to harvest. :-)

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I grow a lot of my own herbs, for the kichen and for use medicinally. I have drying now: parsley, self heal, yarrow, mint, feverfew. Tomorrow I am hoping to cut the thyme, oregano, cilantro and chives to dry.

I hang some to dry and dry some on screens. In this dry heat it doesn't take long! I love the look of the dried herbs lined up on the shelf.