Missing the taste of fresh herbs from your garden already? Our third resolution for our herb garden is to savor the flavor! By that I mean, harvest and preserve your herbs to enjoy them throughout the year in your favorite recipes. Dry your herbs for soothing medicinal teas or preserve your culinary herbs in butter for a seemingly gourmet trimming for your table. The possibilities for your herbs are just as boundless as the ways to preserve them!
3. Harvest and Preserve
For the best techniques on harvesting your herbs, here are some things to remember:
- Harvest often once your herbs are established, which will encourage overall healthier growth.
- Make sure to gather herbs in the early morning after the dew has dried and the sun is less intense, for the least amount of stress to your plants.
- When harvesting, use a clean pair of scissors for a fresh cut, and for best flavor, pick foliage before the plant begins to flower. (You can prolong this harvesting period by deadheading your herbs.)
- You can harvest annuals, like Basil, right up until you see frost, but it’s best to stop pruning perennials like Rosemary about a month before the ground freezes, as trimming them late in the season may make them too tender to withstand winter.
When it comes to preserving your herbs, you can freeze them, dry them, add them to vinegar or oil, or create herb butters. When drying, make sure to wash your herbs thoroughly, and hang them in a loose bunch in a cool, dark area to dry. They need good, non-humid air circulation to dry without rotting, and keeping them in the dark helps to preserve their natural oils. Herbs like Basil are easily chopped and frozen in ice cube trays for easy storage, while herbs like Stevia can be easily rendered and the sweet extract can be preserved in the fridge for use in desserts or tea.
By preserving your garden, you can appreciate its wonderfully fresh flavors well into the winter months. A wonderfully simple but powerful way to enhance a dish, using your own herbs will also prevent you from buying overpriced, out of season plants or cuttings in the grocery store. By incorporating your garden into your everyday life, you’ll be surprised at your constant return on investment. With our resolutions for your 2012 garden, you’ll stay healthier by infusing your diet with vitamin and mineral-rich herbs, and you’ll save money by preserving your bounty for the year to come. Try creating some of your own garden resolutions for this coming year and experience the joy and satisfaction of a more sustainable lifestyle.