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Drying Herbs

September 21st, 2017

I’ve been cutting and drying herbs, mostly by hanging them on the back porch. After walking through the hot front porch many times a day, it dawned on me that this spot would be perfect for drying herbs. On sunny days, it hovers around 100 degrees, which is perfect for drying herbs.

I didn’t have an easy to hang herbs, so I put in a few nails, string a string between them, and starting clipping bouquets of herbs from it.

At the moment I have loads of catnip (more on what that will be used for later), oregano, and sage. These herbs will keep our winter meals savory and our cats happy all winter.

What herbs do you grow and dry during the summer?

Friday Favorite: Making Do

December 7th, 2012

There’s nothing I love more than finding a new use for an old item. When we were in Ohio last week, I harvested the remaining sage from my giant sage bush. I wanted to hang it above the wood stove so the warm dry heat would dry it quickly.

Just as I was about to head up the garage to find my hammer and a few nails to put in the beam above the stove, I noticed the old deer racks hanging there. These were left for us by the previous owners, admittedly they need a good dusting, which I hope to do this weekend.

They worked quite nicely to hang my herbs from. Instead of hanging lower from the beam, they’re now hanging up out of the way above the stove. In this climate they’ll dry quickly and be ready for seasoning delicious winter soups and stews! Lucky for me the lodge look is in, next thing you know they’ll be selling antler herb drying racks at Pottery Barn!

Have you found any great new uses for old items recently?

The Preservation Has Begun

June 27th, 2011

Last week I harvested the first items for the pantry: herbs. Each year I harvest herbs and dry them in the attic to add to our meals and to enjoy as tea. I grow a wide variety of herbs in the garden some perennial, some annual. I won’t list all the herbs I have in the garden as there are quite a few. Each year I try to add a few more and learn how to use them both for culinary and medicinal purposes.

You’re supposed to harvest herbs right before them bloom; in the morning after the dew has dried, but before it gets too sunny and warm. At least that’s what I read you should do to get the best flavored herbs for your pantry. I’ve never done any experiments to see if it matters or not, but it makes sense to me that the plants would have more oils in the morning before they it gets too warm.

What made it into my harvest basket?

Peppermint – (Mentha x piperita piperita) Peppermint tea is a refreshing alternative to coffee and regular tea. Excellent for stomach indigestion. Lends its spiciness to many dishes. Don’t be fooled by seeds labelled as ‘peppermint’, peppermint can’t produce seeds because its flowers are sterile. (source of plants: Richter’s)

Sage – (Salvia officinalis) The main culinary varieties popular with onions for poultry stuffing and for flavouring rich meats like pork or duck. Also in homemade sausage, omelettes, cheese and bean dishes. Sage tea gargle is valuable for sore throat. It has highly aromatic leaves and along soft spikes of blooms that invite hummingbirds to the garden. (source: Renee’s Garden)

Mountain Mint – (Pycnanthemum pilosum) Hardy U.S. native. Leaves possess a wonderful menthol fragrance; may be used just like peppermint. Excellent beeplant. (source of seeds: Richter’s)

Greek Oregano – (Origanum vulgare hirtum) This is the true oregano collected wild in the mountains of Greece. White flowers; very hardy. Excellent flavour. (source: seeds from Richter’s)

Bodegold Chamomile – (Matricaria recutita ‘Bodegold’) Improved strain of German chamomile for commercial production. Erect, sturdy growth habit and larger flowers containing up 0.7% essential oil high in bisabolol and other medicinal compounds. (source: Renee’s Garden)
I’ve read that you shouldn’t fertilize your herbs too much or it will lessen the amount of oils in them, which will make them less potent. In my experience I have found that herbs are carefree and don’t really mind lean dry conditions. Once established, perennial herbs can take a good amount of neglect if they’re well suited to your climate and soil. Annual herbs can be a whole different ball game. I find some annual herbs to be picky and difficult to grow – at least here in my soil conditions. I have trouble growing cilantro, which is quite a shame because I enjoy it so much. Growing it in a container seems to be the best option for me.

It certainly looks like it will be a savory winter here at Chiot’s Run. I’ll be so glad I took the time to harvest these herbs and others while I’m enjoying sage stuffing at Thanksgiving or sipping a cup of hot peppermint tea on a chilly evening in January.

Do you harvest and dry herbs for winter use? What’s your favorite herb to grow in the garden?

Reading & Watching

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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.