Drying herbs

One of my fondest memories of childhood is of my sisters and I sitting on the kitchen counter while one of us handed out the spice bottles, smelling each one. It was a regular Saturday morning activity while our parents slept. We knew to be quiet and this entertained us.CSC_0004

I go for home grown herbs, picked fresh and dried or frozen now. This selection is sage, rosemary, parsley, oregano, basil, lemon basil, lemon thyme, vietnamese cilantro, dill and the last of the garlic scapes.  The basil, cilantro, and parsley all get rolled in wax paper and then plastic wrapped and thrown in the freezer.DSC_0033 CSC_0042The drying happens everywhere; curtain rods, shelves, oven and most recently in the greenhouse. To hang them we gather the herb bundles in elastics with a twist tie added to it so it’s easy to twist the bundles onto the string. Ropes of herbs hung out of reach of the cats, until they are dry. On a slow evening we strip the dry herbs off their stems and bottle them for use.

CSC_0062The dill doesn’t hang dry well so into the oven it is. Any time we use the oven we just let it cool a bit and pop the tray in to use the residual heat to dry the dill. If you’re not baking it’s as simple as turning the oven onto the lowest setting with the tray inside, when it reaches temperature turn it off  and let it sit.

CSC_0030 CSC_0031A solar dryer would be great but improvising works too.A couple of window screens clamped together and left to rest in the greenhouse ceiling should do it. This is the oregano and lemon thyme as both are hardier driers. I have read that lemon balm turns black if exposed to direct sunlight, we’ll see how these two do. It’s been a couple of overcast days and they seem to be doing fine.

The first benefit of picking herbs is your hands smell delectable. The second is months of cooking with what you grew. It’s a win-win.

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