The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Herbcraft // Harvesting and Drying herbs

This time of year, in the late summer, between the wheat harvest of Lammas and the apple harvest of Mabon, is perfect for harvesting herbs. 

Try to pick your herbs after a few dry days - easier said than done in England at the moment, with the weather being so temperamental - because this will help with drying out and preventing mould growth. You can be ruthless with most herbs at this point. Cut lots because in drying, your herbs will shrink down to almost nothing and that enormous bunch you thought you had will no doubt be little more than a small jar-full.

This week we picked huge bunches of oregano, marjoram, rosemary and sage for drying. Once we got it home, we separated the sprigs out and spread them over a wire rack which we put into our fan-assisted oven. The oven is not turned on to any temperature - you want to avoid burning your precious herbs - but the fan is working so dry air is being circulated around the oven to dry them out. Big thanks to Bette over at 'Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage' for this tip. I had previously heated my oven and then turned it off, before placing the herbs inside to crisp up, with the oven door cracked slightly open. You can try it this way if you don't have a fan-assisted oven, but take extra care that the oven is not on and cooking your herbs!

After several hours (this will depend on the size of the sprigs, how dry they already were and type of herb, so keep checking them regularly) the herbs will have dried out. My rosemary didn't take quite as long as the sage, but both take much longer than naturally dry herbs such as thyme. Once they are dry, pass them through a colander or sieve, to make the grain nice and fine and store them in clean, sterile air-tight jars or containers. They should keep for several months. 

3 musings:

gypsie sister said...

I have been doing this all week, a mixture of freezing and drying. I always hang dry mine I haven't tried doing them in the oven, may give it a try while waiting for the hanging ones.

Zoe x

Apteka Store said...

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Yarrow said...

I'm glad I found my way back to your blog, as I was wondering about how to dry my herbs for the winter :D
Your earlier post about blogging from the city brought to mind the person who grew enough food for a year from his window boxes. His website is called Vertical Veg and has given me endless ideas :D

I look forward to your posts about your new life :D

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