Herb Harvest and Preparation Guide
There are certain things you can do to maximize the freshness of herbs. Read this helpful tips on herb harvesting and preparation.
The reason why herb-growing hobbyists engage in it is the many uses they can make of them for flavoring in their cooking. Herbs are considered as natural flavorings for food and they are safe to use as such. So, if you are an herb-grower yourself, know how to care for them as well as the various harvesting and preparation guides applicable to the different classes of herbs.
The first guiding rule to observe is when to harvest the herbs such that the maximum beneficial effect from them is assured. It is best to do your harvesting when there is no wind and heat, for these are factors that deplete the essential oils in herbs which give them that property as good flavoring additives to your food. So, see to it that you harvest them only in dry mornings in midsummer. You only harvest certain portions of the herb plant that are already usable in the kitchen – allow the rest of the plant to grow some more for later harvests.
The harvested herbs are normally preserved for future use and there are three ways of doing this: by drying, by freezing or by preserving them in a medium either of vinegar or salt.
In drying herbs, bundle up six to twelve stems of the plants by first removing the foliage and leaves from the bottom of the stems. Tie the bundle with string and hang this up in cold temperature outside the house. Ensure that the bundle is free from insects by putting it in a screened container. The bundle of herb stems can also be dried using dehydrators, microwave or ovens.
The second technique in preservation is by freezing the herbs. Cut the herbs into ¼-inch sizes and bundle them up in a baking sheet lined with wax paper. This is then placed in the freezer until frozen. The frozen herbs are then put inside airtight containers before placing them back in the freezer.
Third, herbs can be preserved by immersing them either in vinegar (herb types like basil, tarragon and mint) or by using salt as a preserver. Herbs preserved in a vinegar medium can last for months and can still be good for culinary use. The use of salt as a preserving medium is done by putting stems of herbs in layers alternating with layers of the salt. The stems are then dried and stored away in airtight containers.
The important thing in herb preservation is ensuring that they are clean when you first harvest them from the plant. Do this by putting them in a bowl of water mixed with salt since the salt drives away the insects and predators without causing harm to the herbs. Then hang them up to dry.
Herb-growing is a fulfilling pastime. You have to take care of them well and practice correct harvesting and preserving methods to maximize the benefits from them. Follow the guidelines outlined in the above paragraphs.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Vicky Josephino. I'm a writer and herb garden enthusiast living just outside of Long Beach, CA. Mostly, I spend my days either buried in my laptop or tinkering the organic garden I've set up a decade ago. I can confidently say that in that amount of time, I've learned about what works (and what doesn't) as far as herb gardening is concerned. And as it goes, you can find those years of herb knowledge and experience in my free email course. I offer you great tips and techniques for growing your herb garden the right way.
For more tips and advice on fresh herbs and organic gardening, check out my articles and free e-course at http://www.herbgardeningguides.com/.