Time to Harvest Herbs (how to dry herbs,make a wreath, herbes de provence recipe)

Time to get cozy at home, warm the hearth and have some crafting fun!

With a "pineapple express" on its way (a very wet, sultry rain here in the northwest) I decided it was time to pick herbs to dry before they got drenched. Here is some inspiration for you to preserve your aromatic bounty to enjoy all winter...

Make an Aromatic Herb Wreath

Herb bunches were trimmed uniformly after the wreath was fully assembled.

Materials You'll Need:
          Florist Wires   Heavy gage wire or wire wreath frame   Herbs   Wire Cutters   Ribbon

Use wire cutters to cut a long strip - about 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length - of heavy-gauge wire.
Bend each end into a hook.
Gather herb bundles that are about 6" long. Use herbs that are suitable for air drying (see below.) 
Use floristwire to bind the bundles of herbs to the heavy-gauge wire.
Cover the entire length of the heavy-gauge wire with herbs, making sure to keep them close together to prevent gaps. Option: add edible flowers or peppers for color (echinacea, violas, red chiles, etc.)
Bend the covered heavy-gauge wire into any shape you want, such as a typical round wreath, square or heart.
Add a bow and hang tag with the herb names.

hang tag made from scrapbook paper

For retaining highest flavor and quality, air drying is the easiest, most inexpensive method for preserving herbs. Moisture evaporates slowly and naturally during air drying, leaving the precious herb oils behind. Dehydrators are useful if you are drying large quantities of herbs or high moisture herbs such as basil. Use a microwave oven as a last resort for drying as microwaves literally cook the herbs producing very poor quality.
Sturdy herbs are best suited for air-drying, such as sage, thyme, summer savory, dill, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary and marjoram. Basil, tarragon, lemon balm and the mints have a high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly. Chives are best frozen.

NO TIME to make a fancy wreath? Tie a bunch of herbs with a rubber band, pretty ribbon and hang tag. Why not make extras to share with your neighbors?

The best time to cut herbs for drying is just before they flower. This is when the leaves have the most oil, which is what gives herbs aroma and flavor. But, if your herbs have already flowered, they can still be harvested and dried. Cut herbs in mid-morning when the leaves are dry but before the midday sun.

To air dry herbs, follow these simple steps:
Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut large stems or branches from mature plants. Remove any old, damaged or diseased leaves.
Rinse each branch in cold water and dry with towels or paper towels to remove all visible water. Wet herbs tend to mold which destroys the whole bunch.
Tie three or four stems together in a small bunch with a rubber band. For high moisture herbs, use smaller bunches.
Place the bunch upside down. Hang them in a warm, airy room out of any light. Leave undisturbed for about two weeks or longer.
When the leaves are dry, check for any signs of mold growth. Toss the entire bunch if moldy and try again. Strip dried leaves from stems and discard stems. Crush the leaves if desired, but keep in mind that whole herbs retain their flavor longer than crushed, ground or rubbed herbs.
Store dried herbs in small airtight containers away from the light. Zip closure plastic bags, colored bailing wire jars and ceramic crocks can be used for storage. Add a cute hang tag.

Herbs Which Require Fast Drying:
Basil, tarragon, lemon balm and mints have high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly and are best dried in a dehydrator.
Store herbs in a cool, dry, dark place (away from sunlight). Dried herbs keep for years but for best results use within a year. Most herbs will diminish in flavor with age and a larger amount will be needed to achieve the desired flavor in cooking.

Use Your Herbs:
To release the full flavor, crush whole herb leaves just before adding to the recipe. When using dried herbs, add to soups and stews during the last half-hour of cooking or follow recipe directions. Be creative and add dried herbs to flavor your favorite dishes. Make bottles of crushed herb mixtures for gifts, such as herbes de provence.

Recipe for Herbes de ProvenceIngredients:1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon chervil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon summer savory
1 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon mint
2 powdered or chopped bay leaves
Preparation:Mix together all of the ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container.Makes about 1/3 cup herb mix.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the reminder . . to stop fretting over work to be done and take a few minutes to do something nice. And to give Thanks.