Harvesting Herbs a traditional summer activity
Harvesting herbs is a traditional summer activities. With Boline, sharp knife, or strong sharp scissors, basket, small paper bags and a marker you are ready to go out to your garden or to the wilds and begin harvesting herbs. This is the time to harvest herbs for preservation. With most herbs harvesting comes just when the flowers are about to open and the oils are most heavily concentrated. There are exceptions. Sage should be cut when the bud appears and you should wait until the blooms are full to gather hyssop, oregano and thyme.
Harvesting herbs early in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the hot sun brings out the oils is the best time. Lavender, marjoram, rosemary and other shrubby perennial herbs should be cut half the length of the year’s growth.
Harvest flowers for drying and fragrance when they are just open and are fresh looking. Seed heads are ready when they turn color before opening. Harvest heads on a warm dry day by cutting the entire head or stem and dropping into a paper bag.
When you are done bring all cut herbs indoors out of the sun as soon as possible after harvesting. Keep them separate and rinse quickly in cool water to remove the dirt. Shake of all excess water and set to drain making sure that they drain well spread the herbs out to dry on paper towels or dishcloths until all surface moisture has evaporated. Now spread them on a flat surface. Pick out and discard bad leaves or petals. Now is the time to label each bunch.
Hanging your harvested herbs to dry is the most colorful way, and perhaps the easiest as well. All you will need to do is take a bunch of one kind of herb, tie the stems together with string and hang upside down in a place that’s warm, dry and away from direct sunlight. Hang them free where air can circulate all around to prevent mildew.It is best to dry herbs indoors in a large empty closet, attic, or unused corner of a room. Drying herbs look quite attractive drying in a kitchen or pantry. If none of these places are practical, herbs can be dried in a barn, or shed. If the space is dusty place the herbs in a paper bag that has been perforated all around for air circulation. Tie the bag around the stems. This is also a good way to dry seed heads, they will drop in the bottom of the bag as they dry and fall. Depending on the weather this method of drying usually takes about two weeks to hang dry. They should be crisp and crackly to the touch. Store the herbs in labeled jars or bags. There are other methods of preserving herbs and they will be discussed in a later posting.
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