Thursday, July 12, 2012
I even placed second in a garden contest that year. So you could say my roots are in herbs. Our favorite culinary herbs are rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil and sage and they've been grown in the backyard, harvested, and dried in my 110 degree 2nd floor of a garage for going on 20 seasons now. Parsley is the only exception to air drying because I like to retain the brilliant green for in recipes and it tends to turn brown when air drying. We used to dry parsley in the microwave and here's my post on that. More recently, after a couple close calls with burnt parsley in the microwave, we've used the dehydrator (in picture) which works quite well. I can't recall the last time I purchased any of these herbs. This week was herb drying week for rosemary and some purple basil. I dried the thyme and oregano in the spring when it was at its peak (just before flowering). The parsley also was dried early this year after last year's crop provided a 2nd year cutting. The basil was getting ready to bloom so I picked a bunch now, but will pull the entire plants in the fall and dry the whole plant also. Herbs are very, very easy to dry. Just cut stems before blooming and lay in a single layer on screens and let dry in a 85 to 100+ degree attic or warm area. They'll be dry in about a week. I've had luck drying rosemary on a paper plate on top of a refrigerator also - it just takes a little longer. The hard part is jarring the dried herbs. Thyme, especially, is a practice in patience - for inpatient me anyway. Each tiny dried leaf is stripped from each tiny stem to avoid stems or branches in the jar. Very time consuming, but worth every time-consuming second. The basil and oregano also is a joy to crumple in pasta in the middle of the winter. Homegrown dried herbs are much, much more flavorful and worth the effort.