Herbs for the Winter
Marcie Wallace, Becketwood Member
It’s fall and time to harvest your herbs and prepare them for winter use.
Some herbs can make the transition to the house as a plant, providing you have good light such as south or west facing windows. Check all plants for insects before relocating them indoors. If you leave some herbs in the garden they may provide spaces under the snow for small animals to use as tunnels for moving from one area to another.
For many herbs, more frequent cutting, drying, and storing for future use is preferable.
Air drying is the easiest way to preserve herbs. Cut sprigs and make a bundle tied with string. Hang the bouquet indoors to dry. In my experience, the strength and flavor of herbs dried in this manner are more pungent than those of herbs sold in small jars in stores.
Freezing is a second way to preserve flavor. For leafy herbs, dry in a single layer and place in a freezer bag. To use these freezer-dried herbs, remove the desired quantity and chop them into your recipe. Another method is to chop and mix with olive oil to form a paste that can be frozen in ice cube trays or plastic bags. This method works well with dill, basil, and sorrel. Dried herbs can also be chopped and put into an ice cube tray filled with water (it’s important to have the water cover the herbs completely). This method is especially convenient as it allows the cook to toss as many cubes as desired into stews and soups for healthy winter dishes.
There are so many good ways to extend our community gardens into the next months. Here’s to scrumptious winter flavors.