Friday, June 13, 2014

Drying herbs: Basil, Oregano, Rosemary and Chives

Last weekend, the herb pot and I had to come to an understanding.  It was out of control!!!
When I think of that little, organized planting I did in that giant pot last summer, I can hardly believe that it's the same pot, and the same herbs. 

Here's a look at last summer:

  Aw, isn't it cute?
This year, it looks more like THIS:
Like I said: OUT OF CONTROL.  I absolutely love it.  There are two types of Oregano in there: Mexican and Italian, Chives and Rosemary.  It's fragrant and crazy and wonderful.  It was also seriously in need of a hair cut.  The Oregano was beginning to bolt, as were the Chives, so my scissors and I had a date with destiny!!!   
I was really surprised at how much came out of the trimming.  That's a serious basket of herbs, right there!!!  Once I was done, I decided to try my hand at drying them.  I have a dehydrator and a coffee grinder that never sees the light of day. 
So, I loaded up the dehydrator:
... and the house smelled so good!!!  I have to say, that I'm glad The Guy chose that Saturday to work, because he would not have loved the smell of herbs like I did.  I can just imagine the wrinkled up nose as he walked in, and the question, "What is THAT SMELL?"  Ha ha...

By the time he got home, the herbs looked more like this: 

This was definitely not a load-it-and-leave-it dehydrator project.  These babies dried out very quickly, and I spent a lot of time rotating the trays from bottom to top, and shifting things around.  Amazingly enough, they didn't all dry at the same rate.  I think my dehydrator has some cool spots, because I had to turn the trays as well.  I definitely want to get a better one someday, but for now, it works. 
After about four hours, everything was good and dry, and I started the grinding and bagging process. 
Here's my little coffee grinder.  I have had it for a million years, from a very brief time where I felt the need to grind my own beans.  I must have been a snob.  Whew!  Thank goodness that is over. 
I gave up coffee completely in March, and so this REALLY needed a new use.  I think I've found it's new calling. 
I stripped the leaves from the stems, and tossed them into the grinder.  A few pulses and I had Oregano that was nicely crushed and oh so fragrant.  It blows the top off of any store bought dried herbs!!! 
That giant basket of herbs turned into these four little baggies of wonderfully dried herbs, that will keep nicely through the year.  They will be great in a pinch (ooh, is that a cooking pun?), or whenever I don't want to put the fresh stuff in...  (like it's raining, or I can't find my flip flops). 

All in all, I think it was a really successful experiment, and something that I think I will do again.  If I have to trim up the pot so that it's not bolting anyway, I might as well do something really productive with the cuttings.  I could keep some of the fresh herbs in my fridge, but that just seems silly, since I have the really, really fresh herbs just outside the door. 
You should try it.  If I can do it, anyone can.  Seriously. 
Have a great weekend!
Green Thumb Out.

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