About this article
This article was originally published in the July/August 2016 issue of M: North Atlanta, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
Guide to herbs
Low-moisture herbs are the easiest to dry—these include thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, dill, marjoram, and summer savory.
These are the ones you just secure into bundles with some twine and hang upside down until dried.
High moisture herbs, such as basil, mint, and lemon balm, are a bit more tricky.
Either dry in a low oven (170-degrees) for a few hours with the door partially open (keep a close watch to avoid burning), or use a dehydrator for one to three hours, checking periodically to avoid over-drying.
My advice is to stick with the low-moisture herbs — the high moisture ones are just not the same once they are dried.
What thrives in this scorching summer heat and is sure to improve your cooking? Fresh herbs. While I love going outside and snipping various herbs while I am cooking dinner, I am always cognizant that once fall arrives, most of my beloved herbs retreat until spring. So I need to save as much as possible. There are several ways to do this and they are all simple and take just minutes.
This is the simplest method. Snip some herbs and tie them in bundles with kitchen twine. Hang herbs upside down somewhere out of the way and allow to dry. Once dried, place herbs in glass jars or plastic baggies and label.
You can spread herbs out on a baking sheet and freeze and then put them in glass jars or plastic baggies. Alternatively, place minced herbs in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze. Once frozen, pop them into labeled freezer plastic baggies. Drop them into soups, stews, sauces or stock. You can also make a batch of pesto with all of that fresh basil you have growing and spoon into ice cube trays and freeze. There is nothing better than some pesto pasta on a cold winter night to remind you of summer.
This takes a bit more effort, but it’s worth it. Mince some fresh herbs (try using a combination of your favorites) and mix them into softened butter. Don’t even think about using margarine. Once combined, place herb butter on plastic wrap and roll into a log. Freeze. Slice off slices of butter and add to steamed vegetables or mix into mashed potatoes. It’s also delicious on grilled steak, chicken or on a piece of fish.
Herb Flavored Vinegar
Add fresh herbs to white vinegar. Use about ½ cup fresh herbs per 2 cups of vinegar. These make terrific gifts.