Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drying Herbs

Every year I do a little container herb garden with the herbs that we use most.  Every year I bring those containers inside when the weather turns cold, anticipating fresh herbs all winter.  Every year I manage to kill them.

SO. . . I dry my herbs so that I can enjoy them during the winter.  I think my herbs taste much better than what you find in the grocery store and it's incredibly easy.

Here's my gorgeous herb garden:
 There's basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano in those pots.  I dry them and mix them together to make the best Italian Herb Blend that I use in everything from spaghetti sauce to roast beef to chicken casserole.

To pick the basil, pick the large leaves.  Leave the leaves on the top and the leaves on the top of the stems sticking out.  Also leave the bottom leaves and your basil will keep growing and producing.

To easily pull the leaves off from Rosemary, pinch the stem at the base and run your fingers up the stalk.  The leaves will slide off.

Pull thyme leaves up off the stem, not down, and you will avoid the stem splitting.  It will still produce.

To keep your oregano producing, thin the leaves every so often.

Here's what I took off:

Wash them well!  I put the rosemary, thyme and oregano leaves on a plastic tray inside the dehydrator tray.  If you don't have one, use parchment paper cut to fit.

Basil can be put directly on the rack.

Dry until the leaves are all paper dry.  You should be able to crush the leaves  between your fingers and they will break, not bend.  You shouldn't feel any moisture in the leaves at all.
Major shrinkage!

Put all the herbs into a zip lock bag and squeeze the air out of it.

Use a rolling pin and crush the herbs.

Put into a clean jar and label.  I add to this all summer long until I get a great mixture of the herbs.  Sometimes it is a little basil heavy, sometimes a little oregano heavy.  During the winter, I can add a few more of one herb or another to even out the taste for what I'm cooking.

If I do it again:

I'd buy another oregano plant.  This year it is growing a lot slower than usual!

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