Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 2 - Drying Herbs

After listening to me rant and rave about squirrels destroying my herb garden, I want to assure you that I eventually did have herbs in my garden. In fact, I have a plethora of some of them! I decided to try some new herbs, one of which is pineapple sage. It smells delightful, and we've tried it on chicken, which wasn't a great hit. After searching for recipes using pineapple sage, I hit upon pineapple sage tea - delicious! Just pour boiling water over several leaves and let it steep.

Little did I know when I planted pineapple sage that it would grow into a monstrous bush! My husband has already trimmed it once to keep it from overtaking the other herbs around it - a good time to dry them.

Last year, Al, the guy who put in our new windows, advised me on how he dries herbs, so I used his method: wrap rubber bands around the stems of a bunch of the same herb and hang upside down in a dry, airy spot. I must say I felt like I was walking right out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie, having those herbs hang from pegs in my kitchen.

This year, however, I'm trying a different method. A woman in my arthritis aquatics class belongs to an herb club. Rose told me that you can dry herbs in your microwave. I tried it on some basil and it works wonderfully. I placed one layer of basil (make sure it's not wet) between paper towels. I started with one minute on high and repeated until the basil was dry, being careful not to burn it. I put my dried basil in a zip lock for now until I have time to take it off the stems.

Last year I put my dried herbs (sans stems) in my plastic colander and rubbed them through the holes into another bowl. My husband suggests whizzing them around in my mini-chopper this year, which I haven't tried yet. But it sounds like a good idea.

So if you were inspired to grow herbs this year like my friend Margaret, yours may be ready to dry. To keep your herbs tasting good, pinch off the flowers when they start to grow. If they go to seed, it makes the herbs bitter. I found out by accident last year that my parsley would grow through the winter. More than once, I brushed snow off my parsley and cut some for dinner. Even after cutting them for drying, some herbs came back and grew until frost.

Do you have any herb tips - cooking or growing?

Related posts: Organizing Your Herb Garden, Organizing your garden, Score: Squirrels 1, Bev 0, Feed the Squirrels? - Hah!, Managing Invasive Herbs