Sunday, July 11, 2010

Drying Herbs - A Way To Save Money

A trip down the spice aisle at your local grocery store can be quite an eye opener.  Spices are very expensive.  I love to cook with different spices, so to save myself some money, I grow herbs in containers on my deck each summer.  I don't care for fresh herbs, so I dry them and then store them in airtight containers to use year round.  For several years I've been growing Basil and Parsley.  This year, I added Sage, Thyme, and Rosemary to the mix.  The Sage grew well, but the Thyme and Rosemary got a little too much rain earlier in the year and haven't produced much.

I plant my containers in late April, after all chance of frost has passed.  By the end of June or early July, I'm ready to harvest my first batch of herbs.  I don't have the patience to let them hang and air dry, so I do the following and I have spices dried and stored in a day:

Cut fresh herbs
Soak in water and wash well (I usually find a few little insects hiding in there)
Pat dry and place on cookie sheet covered with foil
Place in 200 degree oven for 2 hours
Check to see if herbs are dry, if not check again every 1/2 hour until dried
Remove from oven and allow to cool
Strip the dried leaves from the stems and crush
Remove stems (this part is tough - now I know why they cost so much)
Store in an airtight container

Yes, it's a lot of work, but from one $1.00 package of seeds I get enough the dried herb to last me all year long plus share with family and friends.

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