The benefits of herbs.
Gardening with herbs is so richly rewarding in so many ways.
5 reasons herbs are good to have in the garden:
- For the landscape designer, looking for visual intrigue.
- For the chef, looking to brighten each meal with big flavor!
- For the novice gardener afraid they have not enough time to tend to the plants properly.
- For spiritualists, who can decipher the benefits of every herb to it’s full physiological and psychological potential.
- They are bad for hungry animals who do not like the oily aromas.
So no need to worry about bunny rabbits and deer eating them all up!
There are a million ways to use your gardens herbs. The first step is to dry them so you can hold on to the summer’s harvest all the next year.
Tips on drying:
Cut herbs at their peak.
Don’t wait until fall when they’ve gone past their prime.
Tie them in bundles with cotton yarn or twine.
(This is a messy job, so best to do outside or on newspaper).
Clean off any dirt and bugs as you’re arranging the bundles.
Hang them upside down, in a dark, cool, dry place for optimal flavor and color.
If you want to hang them in your kitchen,
keep them away from the cooking steam and near a north-side, ventilated window if possible. (I say north-side, as that will avoid direct sunlight).
The hardiness and water-retention of each herb determines how long they will take to dry.
Keep an eye on them.
Pull them down for storing once dry, but before they get mildewy.
If you want to save the leafier, more moist leaves such as Basil, Chives and Mint,
try freezing them in ice cube trays of olive oil for later use. These cubes will be a great start to pasta sauces, poultry dishes, or vegetable sautes.
Tips on storing:
Take your dried bundle apart, stem by stem, and pull the leaves off.
I like to store my herbs in canning jars. (The “Ball” jars usually used to for jams).
This keeps them air tight for use throughout the winter.
I use the small ones, and stack them up in the pantry.
They are also great to give to family and friends when you go over for dinner.
A little something straight from your garden! They’ll love it!
I found these jars really did keep the strong flavor of the herbs all winter.
You will be happy to discover that your garden-grown herbs are much more flavorful than store-bought!
Using Dried Herbs in Cooking and Otherwise:
There are just as many cooking uses for herbs as there are healing, restorative or repellent. Here are some useful bits of knowledge for just 3 of the more common herbs likely to be dried.
Rosemary is from the mint family.
For cooking, it is best suited to poultry dishes, lamb and pork chops.
It is also wonderful in homemade breads, a sprig in a glass of lemonade and in chicken soup!
Fused with oil, it is good for skin irritation such as eczema, or scalp conditions such as dandruff.
Boiled on the stove top in water with orange and vanilla, it will create an amazing smell throughout your house!
Sage is of the Salvia plant. Sage is a pungent and bitter herb, which must be used sparingly in cooking. It works best with fatty meats and cream or butter sauces.
Sage is used to burn like an incense in many parts of the world. It is not meant to make your house smell nice, however. It is meant as a cleansing tool, enhancing clarity and wisdom and spiritual awareness. Thus the term Sagely: “Having or exhibiting wisdom and calm judgment”.
Thyme is a bright and almost lemony herb. It pairs well with beef, carrots, chicken, figs, fish, goat cheese, lamb, lentils, onions, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, tomatoes, and venison.
The ancient Greeks considered Thyme a source of courage, using it in their baths and as incense.
In Europe’s Middle Ages, it was used under the pillow to ward off bad dreams.
In Egypt, it was used for embalming, to assure passage to the next life.
Infused in tea, it is known to help with bronchitis and coughs.
Infused with oil, it can be used as an antiseptic.
The list of herbs and their uses is endless. I hope this post encourages you to have a stab at drying a few this year. Weather it be for use in your cuisine, or for making oils or herbal pillows. Have fun, do some research and experiment!