Every summer we fill our terracotta planters with fresh herbs and we use them almost daily in meals and baking, then come fall we usually just remove what remains and has dried up after their growing season is complete, only to repeat the whole process again the following summer. This time, however, we decided to gather the last of the fresh herbs at the end of their season and dry them for use throughout the fall and winter. There is no match really to herbs straight out of your own garden and into your food, so why not enjoy the same great flavours beyond summer?
It was my first time attempting to dry and store herbs and it was a cinch (we're already drying our second batch from the very last bit of fresh herbs). Below you can find the steps I followed and you too can be enjoying your prized herbs year round! And while I'm on the subject of gardening and herbs, I thought I would also share my two very favourite books about the topic, Vegetables For The Gourmet Gardener and Herbs For The Gourmet Gardener.
You can find both of these books here and here or here and here, I got mine at the latter. I highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys gardening, whether beginner or pro, these books offer an incredible plethora of information ranging from how to plant, care for and harvest specific vegetables and herbs, growing seasons, nutritional info, history of gardening techniques, gardening tools, caring for soil and beyond, it's basically the encyclopedia for gardeners. And of course I can't mention these books without also talking about the gorgeous pictures within them-I'll share a few below. I plan to use these beautiful resources constantly once we move to the country house and start our own large garden, yes that's right, you heard it here first....we're building our dream home and moving to the country-more to come on that!!....
For drying herbs my process was super simple (I used a few online sources as well but the herb book above offers all the information needed).
1.) Cut your herb sprigs from fresh growth
2.) You can wash them, however I also read that this can dilute their flavour by removing their natural oils. I opted to skip this step before drying my herbs.
3.) Make sure all stems are free of insects, old growth, discoloured growth, dirt etc. (if needed give them a rinse)
4.) Make small bunches of a maximum of 4-5 sprigs and tie together with kitchen string at the base of the stems . Do not make large bunches (I tended to stick to 3-4 sprigs depending on the size) as you want every part of the herb to have air circulating around it, too many herbs together can hinder them from drying and lead to mildew or mold growth in less ideal conditions.
5.) Select a warm, dark location to hang your herbs.
6.) Hang the herbs upside down for at least 2 weeks.
7.) Once fully dried remove the strings and place herbs in a sealed jar for storage.
And now for a little peak inside those amazing gardening books.
Herbs are up first!
And now some of the vegetables.
And some gardening info.....