Sunday, August 30, 2009

Collecting and Preserving Herb Leaves

It's quite easy to preserve herb leaves for later use by drying. If done properly, your herbs will retain most of their color, flavor and medicinal qualities.
Gather your herbs on a clear dry day in the morning after the dew has dried. Don't remove the leaves from the stem until after the plant has dried to avoid excessive bruising. For maximum quality, choose plants that are on the verge of blooming. Biennials should be collected in their second year of growth.
Spread the herbs out in a single layer on a screen in a warm, dark place. (I use the spare bedroom and keep the curtains and door closed.) Stir occasionally. When the leaves are thoroughly dry, remove them from the stems. The best leaves to keep are those with good fragrance and nice green color. Store in an airtight container with a tight fitting lid in a cool dark place to maintain maximum quality. A mason jar works good for this.
Now you will have flavorful, healthy leaves for cooking and teas throughout the cold winter months!

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