This post is a follow up to the herb container gardening that was held at the library back in April.

We had several herbs left over from this program that were destined to live a short and wither-y life sitting upon a desk until I decided to swoop in and rescue them. I took home some sage, parsley, basil, thyme and lavender, though the lavender was too far gone by the time I was able to give it some TLC. I transplanted them into some planter boxes along a sunny side of my house. Here they are looking rather puny in their new home.

I could not believe how quickly they bounced back after being planted. After only a few weeks, I was able to make my first harvest.

A small harvest, but I was so excited! Then I thought, "Now what am I supposed to do with these?" I did some research on herb preserving and found that using them fresh is the best way to get the fullest and freshest flavor. However, I usually only cook for myself, so there was no way I could use all of those fresh herbs fast enough! I decided since I had the most basil, I would use it to make butter and I would dry the rest. Some people dry their herbs in the oven, but that can take up a considerable chunk of time in which you have to be very attentive to the herbs and I didn't have that much time to devote to it that day. The route I took was much easier for me. I soaked the herbs in cold water for about 5 minutes and then rinsed them in a colander to remove any dirt and excess debris. A salad spinner would also work well for this. Then I patted the herbs dry with a paper towel, tied them up in bunches, poked a hole in the bottom of a paper lunch sack, and hung them from a length of twine near a window.

That's it. Granted, this process takes longer for the herbs to actually dry, usually 2-3 weeks, but I don't have to worry about them until I have the time to take them down and deal with them. Fast forward three weeks. My herbs are dry and ready to be taken off the stems. Here is what my thyme looked like once it was dry.

To get the herbs off the stem, all I did was pinch the stem at the bottom between two fingers and run it down the length of the stem. The leaves fall right off. This is what you will be left with after removing the leaves!

I have harvested my herbs 3 times so far this season. The dried sage I don't usually use for food or cooking. Instead, I save it to burn if we have a fire going in the fire pit to help keep mosquitoes away. I have harvested enough thyme and parsley to almost fill their own spice jars. I save empty glass spice shakers and that is what I store my dried herbs in. Thyme is on the left and parsley is on the right.

I have not yet attempted to dry my basil, because I have always used it fresh to make something. The first time, I used this tutorial to make homemade butter in a stand mixer. This is a messy task, but I had enough to make two flavors of butter, brown sugar cinnamon and lemon basil garlic butter with my fresh basil. They were delightful!

For my last harvest of fresh basil, I used this recipe to make fresh basil pesto. It only calls for 7 ingredients, so it is super easy to make!

This is what the finished pesto looks like. I labeled the jar with the date it was made and keep it in my fridge so it is always handy. I LOVE to add pesto to my eggs for breakfast; I don't have to add any other type of spices or seasonings!


Now you have some ideas to put those herbs to use!

-Monica

This post is a follow up to the herb container gardening that was held at the library back in April. We had several herbs left over from this program that were destined to live a short and wither-y life sitting upon a desk until I decided to swoop in and rescue them. I took home some sage, parsley, basil, thyme and lavender, though the lavender was too far gone by the time I was able to give it some TLC. I transplanted them into some planter boxes along a sunny side of my house. Here they are looking rather puny in their new home. I could not believe how quickly they bounced back after being planted. After only a few weeks, I was able to make my first harvest. A small harvest, but I was so excited! Then I thought, "Now what am I supposed to do with these?" I did some research on herb preserving and found that using them fresh is the best way to get the fullest and freshest flavor. However, I usually only cook for myself, so there was no way I could use all of those fresh herbs fast enough! I decided since I had the most basil, I would use it to make butter and I would dry the rest. Some people dry their herbs in the oven, but that can take up a considerable chunk of time in which you have to be very attentive to the herbs and I didn't have that much time to devote to it that day. The route I took was much easier for me. I soaked the herbs in cold water for about 5 minutes and then rinsed them in a colander to remove any dirt and excess debris. A salad spinner would also work well for this. Then I patted the herbs dry with a paper towel, tied them up in bunches, poked a hole in the bottom of a paper lunch sack, and hung them from a length of twine near a window. That's it. Granted, this process takes longer for the herbs to actually dry, usually 2-3 weeks, but I don't have to worry about them until I have the time to take them down and deal with them. Fast forward three weeks. My herbs are dry and ready to be taken off the stems. Here is what my thyme looked like once it was dry. To get the herbs off the stem, all I did was pinch the stem at the bottom between two fingers and run it down the length of the stem. The leaves fall right off. This is what you will be left with after removing the leaves! I have harvested my herbs 3 times so far this season. The dried sage I don't usually use for food or cooking. Instead, I save it to burn if we have a fire going in the fire pit to help keep mosquitoes away. I have harvested enough thyme and parsley to almost fill their own spice jars. I save empty glass spice shakers and that is what I store my dried herbs in. Thyme is on the left and parsley is on the right. I have not yet attempted to dry my basil, because I have always used it fresh to make something. The first time, I used this tutorial to make homemade butter in a stand mixer. This is a messy task, but I had enough to make two flavors of butter, brown sugar cinnamon and lemon basil garlic butter with my fresh basil. They were delightful! For my last harvest of fresh basil, I used this recipe to make fresh basil pesto. It only calls for 7 ingredients, so it is super easy to make! This is what the finished pesto looks like. I labeled the jar with the date it was made and keep it in my fridge so it is always handy. I LOVE to add pesto to my eggs for breakfast; I don't have to add any other type of spices or seasonings! Now you have some ideas to put those herbs to use! -Monica