Many people at some point in their life plant herbs. Home-grown herbs are useful to have around for numerous reasons. Starting your own home herb garden takes a bit off work in the beginning, but the the rewards are great.
You must harvest your herbs before they can be used. It’s important to pick them at the proper time. The flavor of the herbs can be badly affected by the elements. It is best if your herbs are harvested on a mild, rainless day, preferably in midsummer. This is because the plant makes less flavorful oil on wet days. It is also advisable to try to harvest early in the morning, before the sun dries the dew. Be careful not to unearth the whole plant when gathering. Only harvest enough for your cooking each time you gather your herbs.
The great part about home-grown herbs is that you never need to use what you harvest right away. It is simple to dry herbs for use later. It is important that you not harvest more than one third of the plant. Herbs need their leaves to gather energy in order to grow back. It is also important to note any imperfections or bugs before gathering the herbs.
There are many ways to save your fresh herbs for later use, including: drying; putting in the freezer; or storing them in salt or vinegar. Gather a small amount of stems together, at least six, and strip any leaves from the bottoms previous to drying. Collect these stems together with a string. The drying herbs should be kept in a cool, dim area. Drying separate leaves are easy to preserve on a screen or rack in the pantry. When drying leaves individually, rotate their sides regularly to dry evenly. Many new gadgets like dehydrators and microwaves can help dry your herbs quicker, but are not necessarily as good for the flavors as naturally drying them.
Another easy way to keep fresh herbs is to freeze them. First cut your herbs and lay them out on a paper lined baking sheet. After the initial freezing, you can gather the herbs and put them in a bag so they will take up less space in your freezer. You can also keep your herbs fresh by using another material.
Some herbs will last for months if they are just covered with a little vinegar to keep them. Another great way to keep herbs is to layer them with salt, this way you get flavored salt to cook with as well. After the herbs have dried, you can separate the leaves from the salt and store both in sealed containers.
The tastiest way by far to use fresh herbs is right out of the garden. Make sure your herbs are cleaned properly before use. It is easy to clean herbs using just a bowl and some chilly water. In cases where you have a lot of herbs, the sink is often a good bet. Just put in two tablespoons of salt. This salt is used to get rid of pesky insects without killing the herbs. Then simply use your handy salad spinner to dry them up.
There are a great many of uses for fresh herbs. Every herb has a unique technique to caring for it and using it properly. It is imperative that you study how to care for each different type of herb you plant.
A. G. Coco is an herb gardening enthusiast and writer.