New to herbs..would like some insight

taigen_gwJuly 26, 2009

Hi...I am new to growing herbs and would appreciate any help anyone can offer. I have been picking, cleaning and using them over the summer...but would like to learn how to dry and save them for use in the winter. I chose to grow mine in large pots in the garden and am not able to bring them in for the winter.

I have;

lemon balm, rosemary, french taragon, marjoram, basil, thyme, summer sage, golden orgeno, chives, and lemon verbena. I also have lavender growing in the gardens. I tend to be one of those folks that enjoys even just touching the leaves of things to smell and many of these herbs are really quite lovely for that.

As I said I have really enjoyed cooking with fresh herbs this summer and hope to expand a little more next year.

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You have a lovely array of herbs, and you are so wise to be touching, smelling and eating them.
Rosemary, French tarragon, marjoram, basil, thyme, oregano and verbena can be dried successfully. Cut stems early in the morning, as soon as the dew is off. Gather several (4-6) stems and tie them together, then hang the bunch out of direct sunlight and where there is good air circulation. Depending on the herb and the amount of humidity in the air, the herbs will be crisp and dry in one to two weeks. Strip the leaves off and store in an airtight container out of direct sun and heat. Do not crush or pulverize the leaves--that offers more surface area for loss of flavor. It is always best to crush herb leaves just before using.
Basil also freezes well--I chop basil leaves very fine, add just enough vegetable oil to make a paste, and freeze in ice cube trays, then store the "basil balls" in a freezer bag. Chives freeze well--just cut, put on a piece of waxed paper, and when frozen, put in a freezer bag.
Sorry, I don't know about summer savory--it dies out fast here in Texas and we only grow winter savory.
Summer sage? Don't know about that, either. We have culinary sage (grey-green leaves, slightly fuzzy, wonderful aroma) and it dries beautifully.
Herbs can become addictive--an herb gardener always has to have "just one more herb" in the garden!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:41AM
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I would make some things now that you could enjoy or use as gifts in the winter such as rosemary jelly and tarragon vinegar or mustard. In one of my books there is a recipe for Lovely Lemon Vinegar that requires lots of lemon flavored herbs plus lemongrass and I don't remember what else. This is best made with fresh herbs.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 1:29PM
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Of all the herbs mentioned basil does not hold its aroma when dried. I woul freez then instead.

With chives, wash them, let dry, then chop them up, spread thinly on a sheet and let them dry . Do the same with parsley but get only the leave and tender end of the stems. But others can be dried as bunch, hangeg upside down. Aftyer dried, store in plastic zip bags and keep in dark dry place, lik in pantry.

Summer sage? did you mean summer savory?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 7:43PM
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I'd freeze the chives, too. Dried chives taste and smell remarkably like dried hay!

In fact, although nothing is better than fresh herbs, I always prefer frozen herbs over dried herbs for flavour retention.

I am doubly fortunate. Not only do I live in the subtropics where plants grow all year round, but I have a friend who lives interstate who comes here regularly to tend my all-herb garden for me (I'm disabled). He says he loves working in my little garden - you never know what wonderful aroma will hit you next, when you're weeding! A further bonus for me is that he emerges from my herb-jungle smelling wonderfully of herbs instead of BO!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 4:14AM
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Cyrus...yes sorry..I did mean summer savory.
Thanks everyone for the help. Hopefully we will get some drier weather here and I can go pick some to hang and dry.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 8:25AM
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