Harvesting your herb garden



Handling herbs

To harvest your healing herbs, wait for a hot, dry day. Harvest in the morning, soon after the dew evaporates from your garden.

Herbs that are desired for their foliage should be harvested before they flower. Herbs grown for seeds should be picked as the seed pods change color from green to brown.

Herbs grown for flowers should be collected right before full bloom. Those harvested for roots are best picked after the foliage changes color in the fall.

To freeze herbs, first blanch them by dipping them briefly into boiling water. When the color of the herbs becomes more vibrant, remove from the water, dry them on a towel and cut off the stems. Freeze the herbs by laying them out on wax paper and making layers of herbs and wax paper.

Then, place the layers in a freezer bag. Another way to freeze herbs is by making ice cubes out of them. Just fill ice cube trays with water, add your blanched herbs and freeze. This is a great way to keep herbs in manageable quantities for cooking. Don’t refreeze herbs after thawing; they lose flavor.

To dry herbs, avoid washing them and losing flavorful oils. If your herbs are dirty, rinse them briefly with cool water. Hang your herbs in a warm, dry, well ventilated location. To keep herbs from getting dusty, put them in brown paper bags with holes punched in them to facilitate circulation.

Alternately, you can dry herbs by laying them out on cookie sheets covered with window screens or a light cloth. Food dehydrators also work well. Sage, thyme, dill and parsley all dry well. Basil, tarragon and mints can discolor and mold if not dried quickly. Lehman’s have a space-saving drier that hangs from a hook and is covered with fine mesh that is bird and insect resistant. (Lehmans.com)

Store herbs in a cool, dark place, preferably in glass jars or tins. Herbs are best if used within two years.



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