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!
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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.
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.
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.
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