Preserving Herbs from the Garden

Preserving Herbs from the Garden

Preserving herbs from your garden is a great way to make the most of their abundance and store them for the winter months when many herbs will not be growing. Herbs are a great way to add flavour to any dish and once you make your own dried mixed herbs you will never want to buy them ever again!

Click below to watch

In this video I share how I pick, dry and preserve my herbs for both a dried mixed herb blend and also to make tea blends.

Why Grow Herbs?

Herbs are the easiest thing to start growing because they are hardy and less susceptible to pests. They also do not require a lot of room to grow. So you can grow herbs in pots or containers if you do not have room for a garden. It is absolutely achievable and you never know where the journey will take you.

indoor herbs

Grow Abundant Herbs

Nature provides so much abundance when we learn to see and utilise it. Sometimes cutting your plants can spark new growth and they will continue to flourish in new directions. Young new growth is much nicer to eat than the older woody growth too. Preserving your harvests also allows you to slow down and reconnect with where your food comes from. It just feels so right to go out to the garden and pick food that you know exactly what has gone into creating it. No chemicals, pesticides, or nasty sprays.

Basil is a warm climate herb and will start to die off as the temperatures decrease. So harvesting and storing basil will mean I will be able to have it available during winter. Basil also responds so well to being cut. Especially towards the end of the season as it starts going to flower. By cutting the tops off, it will grow out thicker and will also help prolong the life of the plant.  

preserving herbs
herbs

Take Cuttings for Gifts

My rosemary is growing a little wild and has even collapsed in the middle under the weight. So I am going to take some cutting to replant and also harvest a big bunch to dry and preserve. Taking cuttings to regrow will give me new plants to gift and trade. It is always good to have some on the go for last minute gifting.

When to Harvest Herbs?

The best time of day to harvest your herbs is first thing in the morning. This is when the plants are hydrated and full of life. As the day goes on they will lose moisture and not be as fresh and vibrant. Early in the morning, the bees are not yet active. As the sun comes up and the dew drys, the bees will be about in a hive of activity. So if you do pick later in the day just be slow and cautious not stress them out and avoid getting stung.

Take time to Slow Down

Spending time in the garden harvesting and caring for your plants allows so much time to observe and learn from your garden.

To slow down and reconnect. Giving your mind time to think. Some of my most creative ideas come when I can quiet the rest of the world. Harvesting also gives such a sense of pride. That you have grown all this delicious food is so special. 

How to Preserve and Dry Herbs?

To preserve these herbs I first rinse them off in the sink. Next, I separate the stems and lay the leaves out on my dehydrator trays. I put a layer of brown baking paper to stop them from falling through the tray grid. I keep and reuse the brown baking paper for future dehydrating. I then pop them in the dehydrator on the lowest temperature setting. Between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. You can also do this in the oven but just be aware it may take 5-8 hours to dry depending on the thickness of the herbs. So it is important you are home when using the oven. To air-dry your herbs, hang them upside down but make sure you have a dry and warm climate. If you live in an area with humidity I would avoid air-drying. You want the herbs to dry as fast as possible.

Dry the herbs until they feel crispy as you do not want any moisture still left in the leaves. If there is still moisture they may spoil or grow mould in the storage process.

Once they are completely dry you can pop them straight into clean, dry jars or storage containers. If you want to save room you can crush them up using a mortar and pestle. Mix some of your herbs together to make a mixed her blend ready for all your winter soups and meals.

Share and Inspire Others

These dried herbs also make great gifts. Taking gifts from your garden to friends and family is something that should become a regular ritual. They will so feel special and you will also feel joy and pride in sharing your homegrown produce. Sharing from the garden can also spark others to try to grow their own food too. You have no idea how many people can be inspired to make changes from your single action of sharing. It should be the way of the future. Because what we are doing in the world right now is not sustainable. 

I hope you feel inspired to grow your own herbs at home and make your own dried mixed herbs. They are so easy to make and so vibrant and full of flavour. Nothing like the dull grey herbs you find at the supermarket.

If you have any questions leave me a comment below.

Happy Gardening,

Holly 🌿

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How to Preserve Edible Flowers

How to Preserve Edible Flowers

I grow a lot of edible flowers in my urban permaculture garden. That way, I not only have plenty of flowers for the bees, but also lots of beautiful edibles to brighten up any meal. Edible flowers have so many health benefits and valuable nutritional qualities. Flowers don’t often last long on the plant and a great way to preserve and harness their energy is to press or dry them. This way you can make infused oils, herbal teas and still have beautiful bright flowers to use throughout the year.

What Time of Day is Best to Pick Edible Flowers?

Pick your edible flowers in the morning but after the sun has come up. First thing in the morning the flowers will still be closed so wait until they fully open up. They will be at their best in the morning, full of life and well hydrated. Throughout the day they can lose moisture and become damaged by insects or wind. Make sure you select flowers that you know don’t have any chemicals or sprays on them. I only use flowers I have grown in my backyard as I can have more control over their surroundings.

Should you Dry the Whole Flower or just the Petals?

You can do both! If the flower has a thick base or bud I tend to remove the petals. Flowers such as Sunflower, Calendula and Hibiscus, I usually remove the petals. The base will take a very long time to dry and most of the time will not be palatable/hard and bitter.

Air Drying Flowers Naturally

The main way that I preserve my edible flowers is to air dry them naturally. I keep a bowl or plate in my pantry and add petals and flowers to it regularly. Each time I go out to the garden to pick veggies, I will pick edible flowers as well. If I don’t use them fresh in my meals I will just pop them aside to dry. It is very hot and dry here in Perth, Australia during the summer, so they will dry within a couple of days. If you live in a humid or cool climate or it is winter, it would be best to oven-dry or use a dehydrator. You want to get the flowers as dry as possible with no moisture left. This is to prevent them from going mouldy or growing bacteria.

Oven drying flowers

Turn your oven on to 40-50degrees Celcius and spread your flowers out on a tray. If your flowers have thick buds or bases it will be best to separate them out and just dry the petals. This may take a while depending on the size and moisture levels of your flowers. It may take around 4-6 hours and gently turn and mix your flowers around during that time to help them dry evenly.

Drying flowers in the dehydrator

Lay your flowers out flat on a tray and turn your dehydrator on to 40-50 degrees Celcius. It will depend on the moisture levels and size of your flowers but it will take between 4-6 hours to dry. Make sure they are completely dry and they may sound crunchy to touch.

Pressing Edible Flowers

Another way I like to preserve my edible flowers is to press them. You can do this with any flower press or to press flowers without a flower press, simply place your flowers between sheets of paper or a notepad and stack some heavy books on top. Press whole flowers or petals but if the bud or base of the flower is quite thick, I would remove it and just press the petals. Pressing flowers will take a while to ensure that they are completely dry. Depending on your temperatures and climate it can take between 2-4 weeks to dry your edible flowers.

How to Store Edible Flowers

Once your flowers are completely dry you can store them in an airtight container out of sunlight. I keep all my air-dried flowers in jars in my pantry. My pressed flowers that I want to keep intact, I store in a glass container with a bit of paper towel. In dry conditions, these will last quite a while. I have some from a year ago that are still great.

preserved flowers

How to use Dried Edible Flowers?

There are so many ways to use your dried flowers. Here are some of my favourite ways to use them.

  • Herbal Teas
  • Cocktail Garnish Mixes
  • Infused oils
  • Infused Vinegar
  • Cake decorating
  • Everyday meal garnishing
  • Botanical Salts
  • Arts and crafts
  • Bath bombs or decoration
  • Hand scrubs
  • Infused spirits
  • Healing body balms

WATCH my Video on How to Preserve Edible Flowers

Holly 🌱

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
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DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

Edible Flower Salt

Edible Flower Salt

I jump at any chance to use edible flowers in my dishes and this edible flower fairy salt is one of my favourites! Edible flowers are a great, easy way to add wow factor to any dish. Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are so vibrant and have been abundance in my garden this summer. This recipe helps preserve their stunning colours and I can use them on my dishes throughout the year.

Fairy salt would be a great way to get kids involved with garden to plate cooking. Foraging for edible flowers, drying them and making fairy salt.

Edible Flower Salt is so EASY with only two ingredients!

You could use any edible flowers for this but cornflowers are the perfect size and colour. They lose their colour when they are left to dry on the plant so I feel better about picking them.

Yield: 1/2 cup

Edible Flower Fairy Salt

edible flower salt
Prep Time 5 days
Additional Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 days 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Salt Flakes
  • 2 TBSP dried Cornflowers

Instructions

  1. Pick cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) and gently pull the petals from the bud. Lay them out flat on a plate. Leave them to dry completely for 5 days turning them regularly to release moisture. To speed up this process you could put them in the oven on low (40-50degrees Celcius) to dry.
  2. Place salt flakes into an airtight jar. Mix through the dried cornflowers.
  3. Serve on meals as a finishing salt.

Serving Suggestions

I have been using this edible flower salt to brighten up so many of my meals. Simple eggs on toast become a little more magical with a dusting of this flower salt. I also made some delicious salt and vinegar beetroot chips and this salt was the perfect addition.

salt and vinegar beetroot chips
Salt and Vinegar Beetroot Chips with Edible Flower Salt

DIY Gift Idea

I have also made up small jars as gifts to friends. A small simple gesture can go such a long way. I want to get in the habit of taking a small gift whenever I visit friends and family. Whether that is some preserved produce, cuttings, seedling or some saved seeds. You never know how much a spark of inspiration can cause a ripple effect in someone’s life.

Holly 🌱

WATCH Edible Flower Salt and Beet Chips Below

 

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Fennel Frond Pesto

Fennel Frond Pesto

I made this delicious Fennel Front Pesto to use up the all the beautiful fresh fennel fronds I had. Super quick and easy to make! Are you growing fennel and not sure what to make with all those beautiful fennel fronds? I grew fennel for the first time this year so I had to start figuring out what to make with the abundance of greenery after harvesting the fennel.

I often will portion out my extra pesto into ice cubes and freeze them in a container to preserve for future meals. Pesto is great to have on hand in the freezer to add to sauces, soups, quick and easy pasta sauce and even just defrosted as a dip for a cheese platter. Fennel Frond Pesto adds a fresh herbaceous flavour and saves buying dip in plastic containers!

Yield: 2 cups

Fennel Frond Pesto

fennel frond pesto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Distilled Water
  • 2-3 cups Fennel Fronds
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Sprinkle of Salt to Season

Instructions

  1. Wash Fennel Fronds and remove hard woody centre stem.
  2. Place all ingredients EXCEPT Walnuts in a Nutribullet or food processor. Blitz until combined and fronds have broken up into small pieces.
  3. Add the Walnuts and blitz to combine. If the mixture looks a little thick or dry add in an extra dash of water or olive oil.
  4. Taste and add extra salt if needed and ready to serve!

Notes

If you want to preserve divide the extra mixture into ice trays and freeze. I use large Ice trays. Then once it has frozen place in an airtight, freezer-proof container until you are ready to use.

I use a Nutribullet or stick blender as that is all I have. They work well but that is why I split the walnuts and greens up as it takes longer to blitz the greens.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1/4 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 64Total Fat: 5.4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 72.5mgCarbohydrates: 3.5gSugar: 0gProtein: 1.7g

More about Fennel

Fennel is such a great addition to your permaculture garden. The bulbs provide plenty of food which can be eaten fresh in a salad, roasted or pickled. The leaves are a great addition to salads, soups and teas. It also has beautiful yellow flowers that have a mild liquorice/ aniseed flavour and are an amazing edible flower as well as to attract pollinators to your garden. Their big bushy fronds make a great haven for beneficial insects and they look beautiful in vases as cut greenery and flowers. They self-seed very well so you will have fennel growing for many years to come with very little effort!

fennel frond
Fennel Salad with Kumquat, Watermelon Radish and edible flowers.

I am always learning new ways to use, cook and preserve everything I grow. I want to maximise my harvests and I am doing that by continuously expanding my knowledge and recipe base. Fennel Frond Pesto is now added to my list and I will continue to explore new ways to use all the parts of the fennel plant. Join me over on YouTube for weekly videos as I continue on my journey to live a more Sustainable Lifestyle.

I made this delicious Fennel Front Pesto by swapping out the greens from my garden pesto recipe. It is a super versatile recipe to use up any extra herbs and greens from your garden.

Watch my video below to find out more about my favourite edible flowers.

What do you use Fennel Fronds for? Leave a comment below 🌿

Holly 🌱

 

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
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DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

Nasturtium Capers

Nasturtium Capers

If you have been following me for a bit you will know I have been on a Nasturtium recipe craze! One of the things I am trying to do is learn as many recipes as I can for things that I grow in my garden. It turns out Nasturtiums have a lot more uses than just a pretty edible flower!! My plants were getting a bit wild and overtaking the garden so I picked all the flowers and collected a whole bunch of seed pods to make Nasturtium Capers. This is a two-part process where I soaked the seed pods for 5 days before pickling.

INGREDIENTS

  • Jar of Nasturtium Seed pods
  • White Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Mustard seeds
  • Dill leaves

METHOD

Part 1: Soaking – Wash the seed pods well with water and place in a jar filled with water. Leave to soak in the fridge for 2 days. Then rinse again and refill the jar with water and add a teaspoon of salt to make a brine. Leave to soak for another day or so. This process should help remove some of the bitterness from the seeds. After a few days in the brine rinse and leave in plain water while you prepare the vinegar.

Part 2: Pickling liquid – In a saucepan on a low heat add a jar (whatever one you are going to be pickling in) of white vinegar and then about 1/4 of the jar of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and I like my pickles sweet so I added 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Taste and add more sugar or salt depending on your liking. Set aside to cool.

Wash your jar well with hot water to sterilise and add your seed pods and pick out any that don’t look the best or any leaves etc. I added a teaspoon of mustard seeds, small dill leaf and a sprinkle of chilli flakes. You could mix this up with whatever flavours you like.

Once the pickling liquid has cooled down add it to your jar and place in the fridge. I noticed from my research that they go brown once pickled so tried one batch with Nasturtium flowers added to it (on top pushed down into the liquid) and this turned out great with an orange pickling liquid. I removed the flowers at the end when I opened them to eat. I waited two weeks to try mine because I got busy but I’m sure after a few days to a week you could try them.

As these Nasturtium Capers are just a refrigerated pickle I would eat them within 3 months.

How to eat Nasturtium Capers?

These are a delicious accompaniment to most meals! Try served on an omelette, pizza, salad or with a fish dish.

Nasturtium
Lettuce wraps with Avocado, Haloumi, Basil and Nasturtium Capers.

 

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
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Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!

What to do with Lemons?

What to do with Lemons?

What to do with lemons?! Lemon and citrus season is in full swing and if you are lucky enough, you may be struggling to use up all your produce before it goes to waste. A great problem to have! Below are a few of my favourite ways to use up lemons. I love how the lemon season coincides with the flu season and lemons are a fantastic natural remedy, packed full of vitamin C for colds and flu! Nature really is amazing. If you have a ton of lemons, below are some great ways to preserve your lemons so you can use them throughout the year.

Fresh off the Tree

One of the best ways to extend your harvest is to leave them on the tree for as long as you can. As soon as you pick them they will start to ripen and deteriorate much quicker than if they remain on the tree. I love fresh lemons especially walking out to my garden and picking a lemon and cutting it up for a fresh cup of hot lemon water or in summer, iced lemon water! This is also the best way to get the most vitamin C as once you cook or dehydrate lemons, the Vitamin C levels reduce significantly. But there is only so much fresh lemon I can eat…

Gifting or Swapping

Gifting or trading your excess lemons is a great way to make friends with your neighbours! Your friends, family and work colleagues may also love some fresh lemons if they don’t have a tree at home. This can open up some great conversations and people may even start bringing and gifting their own excess produce.

Dehydrated Lemons

It’s winter and I love a hot water lemon drink in the morning to warm up! The only thing is that often I put the remaining half a lemon in the fridge and it will end up at the back of the fridge until it gets thrown out 🙁 So if I want lemon for my tea I pick a small one and put it somewhere front and centre so I can see it! This is why I love using dehydrated lemons because you can use a couple of slices as needed. Dehydrated lemons can also be used in baking, cake decorating, or finely chopped to add some lemony flavour to your cooking. They rehydrate once they get wet so they work quite similarly to fresh lemon but have a more caramelised flavour.

Lemon Zest

Zest the skins and dehydrate. Place in a jar and use in cooking and baking to as some lemony flavour!

Lemon Juice

You can then juice the lemons and freeze into ice cubes. Once the cubes are frozen, place into a container or freezer bag and label. These can be used in cold drinks, cocktails, cooking, baking and added to boiling water for a delicious hot lemon tea at just the right temperature! (can you tell I like lemon tea).

Citrus Cleaner

Ok, so you have now used the zest and the juice of the lemons, what do you do with the remaining flesh?! Place all the lemon scraps in a jar and fill with White Vinegar. Place in a dark spot in your pantry and leave for two weeks. You can then strain the liquid off and add the same amount of distilled water and you have a natural all-purpose cleaner. This is a great way to get the most out of your lemons with as little waste as possible.

You can also simply throw a few slices into your jug/kettle and add a few dashes of white vinegar and water. Simply boil the jug and then let it sit for 30mins. Rinse and clean. This will help remove the limescale and calcium build-ups on your jug.

Baking

Lemon slice, lemon meringue pie, lemon cheesecake. I’m not one for baking recipes but I have been doing some trial and error lately!

Roasted Lemons

In winter I like to make a roast vegetable salad because it’s a little bit more of a winter warmer but not too heavy. I chop up my root vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, beetroot, potato etc) along with some wedges of lemon and oven roast with oil and herbs. This is a great way to use up those half lemons in the fridge or some lemons that are getting too ripe. Once the vegetables are roasted I serve in a bowl of chopped up greens and top with feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and aioli dressing. The roasted lemon wedges can then be squeezed on top and they add beautiful mellow caramelised lemon flavour.

Lemon Butter

Lemon butter or curd is heaven in a jar! This is a super luxurious and delicious way to use lemons and can also make great gifts! Enjoy on toast, pancakes, meringues or add to the centre of lemon muffins for a delicious surprise.

Other ideas

There are still so many different ways to use lemons that I haven’t tried yet. Here are a few below:

  • Marmalade
  • Lemonade!!
  • Preserved Lemons

Let me know what you use lemons for in the comments below!

 

MY GARDENING ESSENTIALS //
Fertiliser spray gun: https://bit.ly/366nL1t
Retractable Hose: https://bit.ly/2TSC0Bo
More gardening tools: https://bit.ly/32IQmbD

DISCLAIMER: Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you! Thank you for supporting my page so I can continue to provide you with free content!