I have fallen in love with the various farmer’s markets that dot the valley.
I have visited several this summer and am thrilled with the variety available in fresh produce. This last weekend, I purchased bunches of fresh herbs with the goal of drying these to use all winter. I found the vendors offering their products so knowledgeable and they so willingly shared with me how to preserve the herbs I had just purchased.
One such vendor informed me that garden herbs should be picked for drying before they flower and that preserving the oils in herbs will result in a more flavorful dried herb. I learned that drying herbs in direct sunlight, in an oven or microwave will reduce their oils and quality and that herbs dense in moisture like basil, chives, mint and tarragon are better when frozen than dried.
I’ve now taken my rosemary, marjoram and oregano, gently washed and removed any bruised leaves and made small bundles secured with twine at the base of the stem. I then placed each bundle upside down into a paper bag that I had cut with holes for ventilation. With the stem of the bundles hanging out of the bag, I secured the bag around the stems and then tied the bag and bundle with twine leaving a long tail so I could then hang all upside down.
For the fresh basil that is full of moisture, I was advised to cut the leaves from the stem, gently wash and pat dry with a paper towel and to spread the leaves on a cookie sheet. I then was instructed to freeze the basil on the cookie sheet and when totally frozen to then put into an airtight container and return to the freezer.
The smells around the house are amazing and I can’t wait to use my herbs this winter.
Maxine Turner is the president of Cuisine Unlimited and contributes monthly blogs about food, catering, trends and more to saltlakemagazine.com. This article was originally posted on utahstyleanddesign.com.