My Herb Garden

My kitchen is filled with the spicy scent of freshly cut chives. I love to cook with fresh herbs and I also dry them for use in wintertime. It’s easy to do and considering the price of organic spices, well worth the time.

I used parsley to fill in this pot of flowers. It's handy to grab a bunch when I need it.

I used parsley to fill in this pot of flowers. It’s right outside my kitchen door– handy to grab a bunch when I need it.

I grow the herbs I use the most: garlic, basil, oregano, sage, tarragon, rosemary, parsley and thyme. (We use garlic and essential oils as the foundation of Uncle Mikey’s Herbal Extract, which repels garden pests.) I love to see the perennials like tarragon and thyme appear in their spots and then I fill in with annuals like basil. If you are short on garden space you can even include them in your patio flower pots. They make a great filler in a hanging basket.

Here’s how to dry herbs:

I snip the herbs when they get a little bushy, to encourage more growth. To dry them you can hang them in bunches, but I like to dry them in the oven. It’s quicker and there’s no chance of the herbs getting mildewed.  Cut the herbs in the morning when they have the most essential oils in their leaves. Rinse in cool water. Drain in a colander and then gently pat dry in a clean towel. Spread the whole sprigs out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place in a preheated 175 degree oven. Leave the door open a crack. Check in 30 minutes. If not crisply dry, continue drying and check in 15 minute increments. When dry you can easily strip the leaves from the stems. I usually store in quart size canning jars until I’m ready to bottle them in smaller spice jars.

I save spice jars all year and then I have them to use as gifts. A jar of home grown tarragon makes a great stocking stuffer! My family and friends now faithfully return their jars when empty, knowing they will be re-filled.

Chives dry best if you snip them first.

Chives dry best if you snip them first.

Drying chives is another matter. I find it works best to first rinse and towel dry chives and then snip them. You can then dry them, using the same method as above. I have a nifty pair of 5-bladed scissors that makes it easier to cut a mound of chives.

Best of all is having plenty of fresh herbs available to brighten up any dish. Here’s an easy recipe for herb butter that is good on meat, steamed veggies, potatoes or a slice of crusty bread. Enjoy!

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