Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to NOT LET your Herbs Go Bad!

I love fresh herbs! They taste Sooooo much better than that dried stuff in tins we get at the store. But frankly, fresh herbs are not the cheapest to buy. And then, when you DO buy them, how many times do you get to use them before they turn black or moldy???  When we buy them, they are in the 'cooled' produce section, so where do we usually store them when we get home? In the refrigerator, of course! (Bad idea) Most people don't know how to successfully do that. So a couple years ago, I began growing some herbs to offset that cost, be able to pick them when I want them, and not waste. At first, I just grew the ones I found seeds for with total disregard of whether I actually had a Use for them or not! LOL too funny... they looked great in the garden but I was still buying herbs at the store! Ok. Enough! So last year I paid attention to what I was buying and using, and then found seeds for THOSE herbs. Yay! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks???

The herbs started growing fast and furious! Next thing I knew they were out of control! I cannot possibly use them that fast! So I set out in search of an answer to How to Store Herbs. Turns out the best way to 'preserve' them is to dry them. So I leave enough in the garden to get me thru the summer and into autumn having fresh and then dry the rest to get me through the winter & spring! There are several ways of drying herbs, none are Wrong, you just need to find what works best for you and I found this method not only works fast and easy for me, but I can use it to dry any herbs I end up buying at the store also! Lately, I have learned to look for the ones marked "Manager's Special!" I buy them (at 1/3 of the regular price) and take them home to dry!

My method....

1. Grab a handful of herbs by the stems
2. Make a marker with the herb's name - this can even be a small piece of paper.
3. Using a twistie, wrap it around the stems & marker maybe 1" from the end.
4. Leave enough of the twistie so you can also create a "loop" with it.
5. Find a small nail or cup hook to hang this from (upside down). I hang mine over the sink off to the side.

You see, herbs need air to dry. When you keep them in plastic in the refrigerator, the condensation is what turns them black. So even if you can't hang them, I have been successful by poling holes in the plastic containers they are sold in at the store and leaving them out on the counter.