“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
Today was the 2012 Purple Cow Festival at Full Moon Natives & Herbs which offered several free seminars, workshops, children’s activities plus much more – can’t wait until next year!
My seminar was on the Herbal Harvest and first included the following tips on harvesting herbs from your garden, however, you could also harvest from your local grocery store!
· Herb flavors are generally strongest just as the flower
buds appear, but before they are fully open
· Pick healthy growth & discard damaged leaves
· Gather in the morning – after the dew has dried but
before the sun gets hot
· Wash and dry herbs in cold salt water before preserving
· Cut annuals just above a leaf leaving at least 6” of stem
· to harvest seeds: allow to mature, collect when turning
brown into a paper bag until thoroughly dry
· Cut only 1/3 of the top growth of perennials except chives
which should be cut completely to the ground each time
Next, tips on the ways to preserve the harvested herbs including freezing, drying or preparing culinary herbal products to use or share as a blessing with others.
· Chives, dill, marjoram, mints, oregano, parsley, sage,
thyme and tarragon can be frozen in small packets to use
as needed or whole leaves can be frozen on a baking
sheet. Place in small plastic bags – seal and label. Add
whatever you need, unthawed, for cooking.
· Herbs can be combined in blender/food processor with
water to cover, then frozen in ice cube trays. A good way
to preserve a mixture of herbs. Good for soups, juices and
· Freeze seasoning mixes – for stuffing chopped onions,
celery and herbs like parsley, sage, marjoram, savory &
thyme. Thaw and add to bread cubes when you’re ready
to stuff the bird.
· Freeze mint or lemon balm leaves and edible flowers like
violets or borage in containers filled with water for
decorative ice cubes or punch bowl rings.
· Eliminate the moisture as quickly as possible while
retaining the oils that gives the leaves color and flavor.
· Hang long stemmed herbs: gather bouquet of 5-8 stems,
tie ends together and hang upside down in a shady place
with good air circulation inside a brown paper bag with
ventilation holes for 2-4 weeks
· Screen dry small herbs, leaves and seed heads – old
window screen, sweater dryer or cheesecloth stretched
over a picture frame. Strip leaves, lay on dryer and
protect from sun in a well-ventilated area. These will dry
in days, not weeks.
· Oven – put on trays & turn on the light only
· Food Dehydrator – place leaves on trays and follow
instructions for drying
· Once dried, store as whole as possible in a cool, dry place
away from sunlight for no more than 1 year
Finally, some of the easy to make culinary herbal products that were demonstrated and sampled (NOTE: for recipes and additional information click on the products for links to earlier posts):
Herbs can enhance many ordinary jelly recipes with infusions instead of the ordinary liquid.
Herbs can be added to homemade mustards or added to prepared mustards. For more information and recipes see this earlier post.
Herbs can be chopped and added to butter to be used on vegetables, brushed on grilled meats, melted into sauces or simply used on breads or crackers. Most refrigerated herb butter stay fresh for up to a month, and they can be frozen
Combine chopped rosemary & lemon thyme with butter & lemon juice to make Lemon-Rosemary Butter
Salt removes moisture from herb leaves and you can either alternate layers of salt and herbs in a jar, cover and store in a dark place or combined in a food processor then spread mixture on cookie sheet to dry for an hour at 200 degrees.
GARLIC HERB SALT
1 bulb garlic
1Tbs black peppercorns
24oz sea salt
Wash & dry herbs. Let rest overnight. Peel and chop garlic fine then put into a food processor. Add the herbs and the peppercorns a little at a time until they are chopped fine. Slowly add the salt. The salt will begin to dry out the herb paste. When it is mostly dry and a suitable size, spread onto waxed paper and let dry overnight. Store in airtight container. Use to flavor meats before grilling.
Herbs can be added to honey for use in recipes, tea or drizzled on your favorite bread.
Herbs may be added to wine vinegars – white, rice or red – to create unique salad dressings and marinades. For more information and recipes see this earlier post.
Herbs may be added to flavor sugar which then can be used in recipes, sprinkled on cookies or added to your favorite cup of tea. They can be mixed in and ground or layered between sugar and removed before use.
Layered Rose Geranium leaves and sugar in a canning jar
Herb Tea Blends
Herbs may be used individually or combined to make herbal teas or added to your favorite green, oolong or black tea. Blending is the art of adding more than one tea or herb together to create a blend. Custom blends are a wonderful and healthy gift.
Blending the herbs . . .
. . . and the finished product
COMFORT & JOY
1c Rooibos - Red Tea
1/2c German Chamomile
1/4c Calendula petals
2Tbs Cinnamon chips