Friday, August 27, 2010

Using and Preserving Summer Herbs: Drying Herbs

And now a bit of wisdom from Melissa, the divinely inspired mistress of the blog Gluten Free for Good.
I’ve followed Peef and Lo’s quirky, well-written, informative and spirited blog for years now. With a name like BURP, you'd better be entertaining – and they deliver in fine form. When Lo asked me to guest-post during their “preserving summer herbs” series, I jumped (okay, crawled reluctantly) at the chance. Summer is a crazy time for me, but I like their style and felt honored to be asked. As a compromise to my work schedule, I dug around in my composter and pulled out an old post I did on drying herbs. Please forgive me if you’ve read it before, but I do think (especially with fall around the corner), it’s a good idea to rethink saving herbs for the long, cold winter. Whether you’re in Wisconsin or Colorado, it’s nice to pull out a jar of your very own dried herbs to throw in soups or stews on those snowy winter days.

Here’s my version of drying herbs, with a short preamble to go with the quirky ambiance of BURP.

Herbs and spices have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. I often mention specific health-promoting properties when describing an herb or spice in a recipe. Aside from their appetizing flavors and aromas, most are filled with various beneficial vitamins and minerals.

And wasn’t it Cleopatra who used herbs to seduce men? Or was it incense she used? Milk baths? Probably all of the above. Or, maybe it was this lounging-around-topless look. Whatever it was, she went down in history as being quite the shrewd temptress. (But I digress.)

How to dry rosemary, marjoram and dill

What you do 

  1. Snip herbs, leaving them with long stems. Tie the herbs together and hang them in a dry, dark and well-ventilated area. Hanging them from cabinets in the kitchen is a nice look, but you do want to keep them dry and clean. I moved these from my pantry to a well-lit area to take the photo. You can also put a paper lunch sack around them (poke a few air holes in the sack). That way they’re in the dark and protected from dust.
  2. Leave for 2 to 4 weeks, checking occasionally to see if they are adequately dry. Some take longer than others. If they crumble and fall apart when you rub them between your fingers, they’re ready to store.
  3. Store them in clean glass jars. I like to keep them intact in relatively long pieces until I want to use them, then I take a piece out and remove the dried leaves. Label, date them and store them away from heat and light. They last six months to a year.

Go forth and dry your herbs. Doing it Cleopatra style is an option. 

We've loved Melissa ever since the first day we stepped foot onto her blog, Gluten Free for Good. Both Melissa and her daughter have been diagnosed with celiac disease, so her mission is to "increase awareness of celiac disease and help people navigate the gluten-free lifestyle with confidence, strength, optimal nutrition, and renewed vitality."  And she does a mighty fine job, if we do say so ourselves. Her site is filled with delicious recipes including spinach pesto (with oregano & dill), basil, mint, and walnut pesto, and quinoa and corn salad (with that powerhouse herb, cilantro). 

This guest post is part of our Summer 2010 Herb Series: Using and Preserving Herbs. Stay tuned every Friday for more hints, tips and tricks on how to use summer's bounty!

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  1. Oh how fun! Thank you for including me, I'm honored. You guys at >burp< are great! It's all of 4:30 AM here in Golden, CO and I'm off to the airport for a trip to Seattle for the International Food Blogger's Conference. Wish you were going. We could wine, dine and herb each other.

    Love you guys!

  2. Ah, the good old days...when fat was sexy and walking around topless was required.

    Another great guest post. I laughed. I learned something. And I have found a wonderful new resource for a friend of mine who is afflicted with celiac disease. Happy Friday to me!

  3. Seems like a good idea just wondering if it would work in a humid climate


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