Harvesting Herbs ~ Storage Techniques
Freezing- Cut stems or leaves of the herbs, rinse, pat dry with paper towels and freeze in zip-loc bags. Label the contents and freeze. Pull out what you need for recipes and place the unused portions back in the freezer. You can also freeze chopped herbs in ice cube trays with water. After the cubes are frozen, remove the cubes and place them in freezer bags. Frozen herbs are good to use in soups, stews and sauces.
Drying- Cut whole branches of the herb plant and tie the ends with a rubber band or kitchen twine. Hang the herbs to dry in a warm room with good air circulation. It will take about a week or ten days for the herbs to completely dry. When they are dry, crumble into a glass containers with lids and store in a cool area away from sources of heat.
If you have space on kitchen counters, you can dry herbs there as well. Finely chop the herbs and place the leaves on small sheets of waxed paper. Stir the herbs once a day. They should be dry enough for storage in about ten days.
You can also dry whole leaves on paper towels. If you have a flat surface or room on the kitchen counters, lay the leaves single file on paper towels. Turn the leaves once each day so that they dry evenly on both sides. I like to dry whole lemon balm leaves and spearmint leaves, and once they’re dry I’ll store them in mason jars. I like the whole leaves for herb teas. You can dry rosemary needles on paper towels or any of the mint family.
You can also dry certain herbs in an oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lay the chopped herbs in a single layer. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow the herbs to dry by the heat of the oven. Herbs that work well for oven drying. Parsley, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, sage. Once the herbs are cool place them in storage containers.
Another method of drying is herb salts. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread a thin layer of table salt over the paper. Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs evenly over the salt. Bake for about ten minutes, stirring often to prevent the herbs and salt from scorching. Turn the oven off after ten minutes baking time. Allow the salt and herb mixture to continue drying by the heat of the oven. Let the mixture dry and cool completely before storing in glass jars. You can use this seasoning salt with vegetables, stews, soups, broth, etc. Herbs that work well with this drying method are chives, lemon thyme, parsley, rosemary or basil.
Blessed be, sweet ones
~ Meadow Walker
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