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Extra herbs? Dry ’em out!

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So it’s November and I still had fresh herbs growing out back! Yes, half of it was dead thanks to the surprise snow storm we had. But amazingly some were hardy enough to fight the frost! Sweet, I thought! Then I realized I couldn’t use it all up. The thought of having it all go to waste made me sad. I already have basil oil and didn’t need any more. What to do with all of the oregano, thyme,  and sage? I wanted to be able to use it during the wintertime.

Then it hit me. Dry them out. I began looking up for ways to do it. Most said to take two weeks, hanging them somewhere. Well, with two dogs, leaving something edible out there, nothing lasts more than five minutes with them alone. So that was out. Yes, they’ll eat plants. They seem to have an affinity for lettuce sometimes. It’s weird, I’m sure you dog owners have similar stories!

Fresh herbs from our garden

BINGO! I can speed up the process with an oven. So I gathered the leafy herbs, and washed them in a salad spinner. I plucked the leaves off the stems. It took longer than expected, but then again, I had more than I thought!

I set the oven for 200º and it only took four minutes to preheat. I laid the leaves on a cookie sheet, covered with a paper towel. It said to use something with cotton. To absorb the moisture, and to protect the leaves from the metal. You don’t want to scorch it! Then I put it in the oven, and left the door ajar. I turned on the broil and set it for an hour. I kept the herbs on the bottom rack. Oh, it warmed up the kitchen! Sure, the gas bill went up a bit, but know what? You’re not paying for additional gas to heat up the house either. So, it goes both ways. AND you have fresh dried herbs stocked up in your pantry! How is that not a win?  Right, that’s what I thought.

Preparing herbs for the drying process

After an hour, with checking many times in between, I knew it was crispy enough to crinkle up the way I wanted it to. I had three glass jars, all from jams. I had washed it so it was clean and dry. Then I stuffed them all. I also used it as a way to break it: the oregano was plentiful, so to make room, I had to press down on it. This broke them into smaller pieces, which is what you want for dried herbs anyway.

Freshly dried herbs!

I’m so excited about using them for Thanksgiving! Of course I’ll use them much earlier than that, but the idea of how fresh they are (even though they’re dried out now), just has me itching to use them up in the kitchen! Now the fun part is finding ways to use them! Oh, I won’t have a problem in that department …


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