We are well into the season for herb drying and harvesting and aside from waiting for my tomatoes to ripen so I can get to canning there isn’t a lot else that is really exciting me right now. We are definitely in the middle of a beautiful stone fruit season, but I have to admit that now that I am gardening up a storm I’m a little less excited about things I’m not growing or picking myself, and alas, I have no orchard (but don’t worry, I’m mulling over a recipe right now: seared peaches with vanilla pudding sauce and candied sour cherries!).
Out here where it is relatively dry during the summer drying herbs is as simple as walking outside, picking some plants, and tying them up. But it can get to be a little tricky if you are buying herbs or living in a humid climate. So here are a few quick tips to harvesting and drying herbs as learned from my herb farmer Paul Tsakos in Philadelphia.
- always pick herbs while they are flowering- they will have the most oils
- never wash or rinse them
- if you live in humid environment put small amounts of the herb in small paper bags and string the bags up to dry indoors near a good air source (i.e. ceiling or wall fan)
- store them in a cool dark place once dry- preferably in a dark glass jar, other opaque container, or a cupboard
Doing these simple things will ensure a flavorful, well dried herb. For my part, there are only a handful of herbs that I really like dried, and most of them I use for tea, but I LOVE them. Most other herbs have such a different flavor when dried that I generally just treat herbs like I would a seasonal vegetable and forget about them when I can’t get them fresh. Lavender and Lemon Verbena are in full bloom around here, and I am stocking up!