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Herbs are easy to grow and fantastic to cook with, but in the winter months having a fresh supply can be tricky. So why not grow herbs whilst at their most delicious in summer then dry them ready for making flavoursome dishes in winter? An easy, cheap and wholesome way to keep your food full of flavour throughout the year!
The best time to harvest your herbs is before they begin to flower. Follow this easy step by step guide to get the most out of your herbs this season:
Drying your herbs
- Begin by cutting healthy branches from the plants, removing any dry or diseased leaves and any insects.
- Make sure the herb leaves are not wet as this can lead to them rotting.
- Remove leaves at the bottom of the branch leaving inch or so bare.
- Tie around 4 to 6 branches and place the bundle upside down in a paper bag, which has several holes in. Label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
- Make sure the herbs are not crowded in the bag then tie the bag closed.
- Hang the bag upside down in a warm and airy room, leave for about 2 weeks. They're dry enough when the stalks crack and snap rather then bend.
How to store & use your dried herbs
Once the herbs are dry, remove any leaves that are showing any signs of mould and then place them in an air tight container or zip closed sandwich bag. Label the container or bag with date and name of herb. Store the containers in a cool and dry place out of direct light.
Dried herbs are best used within a year of drying. To use them just crush and sprinkle into your dish - they'll smell and taste lovely!
Harvest your fresh herbs regularly throughout the summer. This will make sure your plants grow stronger and healthier, generating the best flavours.
Annual plants such as Basil and Cilantro cannot survive hard frosts, so in the winter months make sure to grow them in pots and replant in the following spring.
Want to try a different storage method? Try freezing fresh herbs in ice cube trays of chicken or vegetable stock. When ready to use, just melt the one of the ice cubes into the dish you're preparing.