Herbs-Harvest Time

By into the rustic - 11:35 AM

The Gathering

Make sure that when you are gathering your herbs for harvesting, that you do it on a nice dry day. It is best to harvest your leaves before the herb starts flowering and going to seed. When the seeds form the leaves of your herbs will taste bitter. Carry a sack to cut your herbs into, and then later on go over the leaves and rinse them in cool water and drain thoroughly.

There are different seasons to harvest different herbs. For example, Parsley and Chervil are harvested and dried in May, June, and July; Burnet and Tarragon are done in June, July and August; Marjoram and Mint are done in July; Summer Savory and Lemon Thyme are done at the end of August.

Preserving Your Herbs

You have two options on how to store your herbs; you can either dry them or freeze them.

Drying- You can either spread the leaves on a clean cloth in a dry well circulated area, or you can oven dry or use a dehydrator. Do not put your herbs in direct sunlight to dry. This will only cause the leaves to turn brown and burn. Some light sun at the beginning and end of the day is alright.

You can also hang your herbs in bunches from a string in a dry room or maybe an attic space. You will need to make a cutting from the herb plant of about 6” and then tie in groups and hang upside down. You may want to spread some newspapers below your hangings, to catch any leaves that fall off. The total drying process should take about 2 weeks.

The hanging method for drying works well with the following herbs: Anise, Basil, Marigold, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Tarragon, and Thyme.

It is best to keep your herbs in whole leaves, when powdered they start to lose their flavor. I recommend only powdering up the herbs right before you use them for cooking or scent.

Store dried herbs in dry airtight containers in a dark place away from heat. This will preserve the color and taste of your herbs and prevent evaporation of its natural oils.

Drying Herb Seeds- To save the seeds of your herbs, pull up the entire plant stalk when it has gone to seed and formed the pods, but the pods have not burst open yet. Spread the pods out in the sun to dry fully. Stir them around to prevent moisture from accumulating on the bottom. When your seeds are dry, shell them and store them in airtight containers in a cool dry place.

Harvesting Herb Flowers- Collect your flowers just after they have bloomed. Be careful not to bruise or overheat them. Put them on a screen to dry, do not pile them up, make sure they are spread out evenly.

Oven/Dehydrator Drying- This will take about 8 hours. For the oven you want the temperature to be 110 degrees F., with the door left ajar. Don’t dry different herbs together in the oven, only one kind at a time.

Freezing- Herbs that are good for freezing are Anise, Basil, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Marigold, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Sorrel, Sweet Marjoram, Tarragon, and Thyme. Put herbs into boxes or plastic baggies after rinsing off herbs and freeze immediately.

Cooking With Dried Herbs- The herb becomes 3 times stronger when it is dried then when it is used fresh. So to give yourself a measurement guide, 1 tsp. dried herb equals 1 Tbl. fresh chopped herb.

Saving Seeds

When your herb has flowered and then produced seedpods, it is best to remove the entire stalk for drying instead of just taking off the pods. Spread the stalks with pods on a nice clean cloth in the sun to dry. This may take you a couple of days to make sure they are completely dried out. Do not leave them outside overnight during this process, as the cool air and morning moisture will ruin the process. Figure between 2-3 days to dry your seeds completely.

Store the seeds in a dry container or envelope and keep them away from heat and light.

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