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September 2, 2011

Saving herbs for year round use

Herbs can be usually used fresh, dry, or fresh-frozen. The rule of thumb is to use twice as much of the fresh or frozen herb as the dried form as the dried from is concentrated. However, dried herbs if not put in sealed containers, soon loose their potency and develop a stale taste.

Harvesting and drying herbs is fairly easy. The volatile oils of the plant are stored mainly in the leaves and this gives the plant its aroma and taste. Air drying is the simplest method. You can hang them in a warm spot upside down after cutting off the root. Food dehydrators create a gentle flow of air which hastens the process.

The idea time of season to harvest most herbs is just when the flower buds are forming, but just before they open. The best time of day is in the morning when the dew has dried off the leaves and there is no moisture clinging to the plant. The volatile oils will be at their best this time of day.

To insure that the plant material is clean, hose them down the evening before you plan to harvest, gently spraying away any dirt which clings to the leaves.

As much as half of the growing leaves from one picking may be harvested from an annual plant. You can snip the stem at least 4 inches up from the ground, yet still above active growth. In time it will grow back and give you a second harvest before summer's end. In some cases, even a third. With perennial plants, no more than one-third should be taken

It's never to late to start herbs indoors where you can harvest all year long!

At Culinary Herbs

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at September 2, 2011 7:03 AM
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