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Time to Stock the Herb Pantry

June 2nd, 2010

It’s that time of the year to start think about harvesting and drying herbs for your spice rack. If you’re trying to eat healthier adding herbs and spices to your food is a great way to do this. Many herbs and spices contain more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables.

Last year I waiting until late in the fall to harvest my herbs, but it’s really something that you should be doing all summer long. Herbs are at their peak of flavor and nutrition right before they bloom. This past week I noticed that my oregano patch was perfect for harvest. This past winter I ran out of oregano because I didn’t harvest and dry quite enough. Since oregano is one of my favorite herbs to use in the kitchen, I’ll harvest a few times to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

When I harvest herbs I usually cut sprigs that are about 6-10 inches long and I tie them into bundles. I hang these bundles in our warm attic for a week or two until they’re dry, then I store the herbs in glass jars.

Oregano is like a wonderherb. It’s full of powerful antioxidants and all kinds of goodness. I like to drink oregano tea or add lots of it to tomato soup when I’m feeling a cold coming on, it often clears it right up. I won’t repeat all the benefits here, read this or this for more info.

Do you dry homegrown herbs for your pantry?

22 Comments to “Time to Stock the Herb Pantry”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Time to Stock the Herb Pantry #edible #herbs #growingherbs #harvest […]

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  2. Mangochild on June 2, 2010 at 5:41 am

    I posted parts of this comment on Simple Green Frugal Co-op, but I thought I’d add it here too since I know there is a lot of good advice and you’d maybe see it more readily.

    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. I want to make sure that they are thoroughly dry so they don’t mold, etc. I was considering the dehydrator, but also want to try the way you describe here. Any tips? Is there a particular texture in different herbs I should be looking for? What is the temperature in the attic? Do you just put them in glass jars, or are they “treated,” similarly to how fruit would be canned in jars?
    .-= Mangochild´s last blog ..Tuesday’s Independence Days Challenge =-.

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    • Susy on June 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

      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.

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  3. pam on June 2, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Thanks for reminding me! I harvested my basil at the beginning of every month, but I didn’t really do that with my other herbs. And since my oregano is quite the bullly, it is soooo ready to be harvested.
    .-= pam´s last blog ..What Was it Wednesday? =-.

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  4. liane on June 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I do dry herbs and i’ve been putting them fresh on everything lately. i have a couple kinds of mint, thyme, sage and oregano i’ll dry today. i also think if you have extra dried herbs make awesome gifts at the holidays and because i save glass jars this costs nothing but a little time.
    .-= liane´s last blog ..olivia =-.

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  5. Kelly on June 2, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I’ll be harvesting for storage for the first time this year. The mint (oregano included) is going crazy, and the parsley and basil will be up soon, too. Last year I didn’t use much of the basil, which was a huge waste that I regret.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Turnips! =-.

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  6. Dave on June 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been meaning to do the same with our oregano and mints. I’ve never tried an oregano tea but the tomato soup is a great use!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Growing Yuccas From Seed (Part 1) =-.

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  7. warren on June 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I love home grown herbs! I love they way they look in the garden and they way the smell when it rains! I love to cook food seasoned with the,,,yum!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..(not) Strawberry wine…(not) 17 =-.

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  8. mamaraby on June 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I dry a variety of herbs both of the culinary and medicinal kinds. So much cheaper!
    .-= mamaraby´s last blog ..Melting…or…Who Needs Air Conditioning? =-.

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  9. sarah on June 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Love this and plan to do this for the first time this year. Do you notice any dust collecting on the leaves from hanging. The reason I ask is we hung peppers to dry last summer (which they did) but once they were dry they were also dusty – so we tossed them :( We are on the hunt for our first dehydrator now for the peppers and fruit and such but I love seeing the herbs tied & hanging. Thanks for the post :)
    .-= sarah´s last blog ..The Butterfly Bush ~ Buddleia =-.

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    • Susy on June 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

      I usually only hang for a few weeks, sometimes I get a little dust, but I shake lightly before putting in jars. One year I left the oregano hanging in the kitchen all year, it did collect some dust, but I don’t mind consuming a little dust.

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  10. MAYBELLINE on June 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Herbs grow here year round so I always use fresh rather than dried.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Stringing Tomatoes =-.

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    • Susy on June 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

      AH, if only I lived in a climate where I could harvest fresh herbs all year. I do bring a few pots of various kinds of herbs that I prefer fresh. They make great houseplants and then I have fresh lemon thyme, rosemary and chives.

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  11. Sense of Home on June 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I grow several different herbs, and last year dried a lot of oregano. I hadn’t thought about using the oregano as a tea, this is a good idea. I have purchased oregano capsules and oil from my parents health food store, it does work well for colds, etc. Drinking my own dried oregano as a tea would save some money and it would be local (something we are making more of a conscious effort to do), I will give it a try.
    .-= Sense of Home´s last blog ..Food Preservation: Rhubarb =-.

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  12. Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog on June 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the reminder! Your posts have this uncanny knack for nudging me along to what needs to be done. Thanks!
    .-= Blake @ Salt, Teak & Fog´s last blog ..look who’s 18 (months!) =-.

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  13. talia on June 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    This is the first year i have enough herbs to do some harvesting: I wouldn’t have thought about it if i didn’t see your post! thanks for the reminder and the how too tips!

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  14. Lelo on June 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. It’s still so early here in our Portland gardens, but it’s easy to forget the dark days of Winter when the abundance of herbs isn’t so simple. Oregano, thyme, sage are all herbs I should be harvesting and drying. As for fennel, one plant produces so much I think I already have several years worth just from last years harvest!

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  15. Seren Dippity on June 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I started drying herbs just yesterday! I made the mistake of not drying enough last year, I think partly because I have so fallen in love with cooking with fresh that the thought of using dried herbs again was unappealing. My oregano and mints are going gangbusters. The Black Swallowtail caterpillars mowed down my dill and parsley before disappearing into cocoons. They didn’t kill it though so I think it will recover. My basils (cinnamon, lemon, spicy, sweet, purple and genovese) and my thymes (lemon and mother of) are off to a slow start. But I plan on making up as much pesto as I possibly can because we love it and use it like crazy. My cilantro has already started to bolt and I have hardly used it at all. I might have time to get in a second growing.
    Growing celery was not a great success for me. I didn’t get many stalks and what I did get was fibrous and bitter. I’ve left the remainder in the ground hoping for it to go to seed. I love ground celery seed in chicken or tuna salads. I’m curious as to how many I can get.
    I can’t seem to get chamomile to survive. But I’m excited to have planted a Camellia tea tree in the partly shaded flowerbed where my hibiscus didn’t make it through the winter. I think with the shade it will make it through our summer. It will be fun to experiment with if it does survive. And I’m also experimenting with stevia this year.
    Lots of fun!!

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  16. Kelly on June 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Herbs were my first foray into the edible gardening world when I was young, and one thing I love most about them is the almost instant gratification you get! My oregano and thyme are both already going really strong – they were the first to come up this year and not a moment too soon because like you I didn’t dry near enough oregano to keep me stocked over winter. It’s been heaven to have it again!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Weekly Flora: Lettuce ‘Freckles’ =-.

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  17. kitchen tables on June 3, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I just finished harvesting mine. I like the growth of my herbs this year.

    Reply to kitchen tables's comment

  18. The wrap-up – Fennel and Fern on June 6, 2010 at 8:33 am

    […] Susy Morris at Chiot’s Run starts saving her herbs. […]

    Reply to The wrap-up – Fennel and Fern's comment

  19. Lynnette on June 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I also dry herbs – and medicinal weeds – LOL! So far this year, I have frozen chives, and dried chive blossoms, sage, oregano, thyme, plantain, red clover….

    Reply to Lynnette's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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