Frosty mornings are here. Beautiful, but deadly, crystals cling to the purple and boxwood basil in my garden. After just one morning, the scars are visible. Brown, lifeless and shriveled leaves darken the north sides of these fragile herbs.
Winter is inevitable, and so is my garden’s demise. But that doesn’t mean the end of the harvest. Now’s the time to make our own collection of dried herbs.
Drying is easy. Harvest your annual herbs such as: mint, basil, cilantro, parsley, and chives. Follow these steps:
Fill your sink with cold water and add a tablespoon or two of white vinegar (vinegar is a sanitizer). Add the herbs individually to the water bath, swirl them through, and allow any dirt to settle to the bottom of the sink. Remove them from the water bath, rinse, then allow them to air dry.
Once dry, remove the leaves from the stalks. Chop just the leaves with a very sharp knife so as not to over bruise them. Fill individual bowls with each herb. Over the next few days, toss and fluff the drying herbs to keep all of the surfaces exposed to the air. Within a few days, you will have a collection of herbs to flavor soups, yoghurts, omelettes, etc. Make sure they are thoroughly dried before bagging them or placing them in containers, or you’ll risk growing mold.
Some people will make bouquets and hang the plants upside down in their garage. You can do this too, but I just want the leaves and not the stems. I think it’s harder to neatly harvest the leaves from the stalks after the plant has dried.
Patricia Bainter is a blogger and writer for 303magazine. She trained at Le Cordon Bleu London and shares her culinary musings and recipes at her own website ThePatricianPalette.com.