THE HERB DIVA
I am fortunate to live in Southern California where it is possible to grow herbs all year long.
By Constanze Bonelli
Like other crops, some herbs are more winter tolerant than others. I like to harvest the typical summer herbs, which are the Mediterranean herbs, to preserve them for winter. There are two methods I use for preservation. One is simply drying the herbs. The other is making herb salts.
Today I’ll talk about drying herbs. It’s the easiest method. To preserve all the wonderful flavor of the plant, harvesting is best done in the morning. In the summer it’s best before the sun is fully on the plant. But in the winter, it can be done even mid-morning. Once cut, I tie several sprigs into bundles with kitchen twine, and hang them upside down in a dry warm spot in my kitchen or living room. This will encourage all the essential oils to be stored in the leaves. Depending on how delicate the harvested herb is, the bundle may be dry in as little as 3 days. I like to be sure though and keep them hanging for a week. If I harvest a fleshier herb such as Sage, I will let it dry for several weeks. Once dry, I take each sprig and gently pull off the leaves and store them in an airtight jar. For this I like to reuse and repurpose old spice jars.
You can make your own Italian herb mix by drying oregano, basil, marjoram and sage, and combining them in one jar. Or get creative and come up with your favorite blend. Dried herbs will be most flavorful if used within a year. But mine never last that long!
To your health!
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