Harvesting You Herb Garden

What’s A Postman’s Favourite Herb?… Parcel-y!

Growing Herbs is easy and enjoyable.  They are a great companion plant and many of them can help deter pest and attract pollinators.  They enhance our food and many are high in nutrients as well.   Unless you grow a window box herb garden in your home harvesting them and storing them in a climate like ours is a must.  There are several methods to do this but not all herbs can be treated the same.  

Herbs like oregano, dill, lemon balm, lemon grass, sage and thyme are good for drying it actually enhances the flavour so when you use them you only need about a quarter of what you would normally use except for thyme.  Oregano is actually better dried than fresh for flavour.  These herbs are usually added early in your cooking and this allows plenty of time for them to release their flavour.  Rosemary can also be dried it mellows its heavier pine flavour but the texture changes and it is best ground after drying.  There are several methods of drying your herbs but before doing so they should be gently washed and then dried by spreading them on a towel before bundling to hang.  Be sure to hang these bundles in a warm, dry, dark spot in your house.  If you do not have a dark spot or are worried about dust you can cover the bundles with a paper bag.  But be sure they still have good air circulation.  Check them often to ensure no mildew.  This method will take anywhere from one to four weeks.  You can then strip the leave off the stem and put in air tight containers for storage again in a dark place.  You can also dry them in the oven by placing the herbs on a cookie sheet and putting in an oven at 150 degrees for a few hours.  Be sure to place parchment paper on your cookie sheets as the metal will detract from their flavour.  Be sure the herbs are totally dry, they should crumble off the stem easily and are good for about a year.  

Delicate herbs like basil, chives,  mint, cilantro, tarragon, and parsley are best frozen although I freeze my dill as well.  Of course there are several methods of doing this as well.  Basil will loose some of its colour when frozen unless it is steamed first then the leaves can be spread on a cookie sheet and frozen.  Place the frozen basil is freezer bags for future use.  Another method of freezing herbs is to chop then pack the herbs in ice cube trays and top with water.  Once the cubes are frozen transfer to freezer bags and keep in your freezer.  They should be good for several months.  You can also puree the herbs with olive oil or water before you freeze them in the ice cube trays.  Use 1 to 1.5 cups herb to a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.  Use ice cube trays that are dedicated to freezing as it does stain them.  Rosemary can also be frozen.  Place it on a cookie sheet in sprigs then freeze for several hours and then transfer to freezer bags.  This way it can be used for flavouring and garnish.

With both drying and freezing be sure to label your herbs and put the date on the packages as well.

Happy Gardening

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com