Welcome back all! Today we are going to discuss how to harvest your spices and herbs as well as how to dry it and store it!
In my previous post I discussed how you can prepare your soil to get the maximum yield out of your crop. There are some amazing herbs and spices out there that doesn’t only add flavor to your food but is also medicinal. Let’s jump right in!
If you live in an accommodating climate, you’d definitely like to keep your crop fresh and ready for the next harvest. Why plant new seeds if you can skip a few steps and harvest another yield!
Some key factors to take into consideration when harvesting is to keep your crop healthy and allow it to recover to get the most yield out of it. Here are some steps you can take to ensure this.
Depending on the herb or spice you wish to grow, you’ll have to choose whether it are the seed, flower or leaf you want to harvest. When harvesting leaves, it is best to prune at the base of the leave and not to leave the stem exposed. But when harvesting stems, it is best to cut at the base of the stem; just above the soil.
Another sustainable gardening method is to take your stem cuttings and plant them to regrow. You’ll save time and money this way. Also, stop harvesting herbs and spices well before the cold weather settles in. This allows your plants to survive winter by recuperating and sustain themselves for the cold season.
Next I will discuss how to harvest the herbs I spoke of in my first post.
If you click the link in the title, you can learn more about wildcrafting; a sustainable method of natural foraging. 🙂
Here, I will give you a list of each herb and spice as well as which parts of it can be harvested. The seeds of spice are the main component to harvest in the majority of spices, but will list the exemptions as well here.
Here I will discuss how to properly clean and prepare your harvest to leave only the great and healthy taste behind.
Take a bowl and add your herbs or your spices. Pour water into it until all of it is soaked. Stir and tumble your herbs or spices for a few minutes, then allow it to settle. You want all the dirt and nastiest parts to settle at the bottom of the bowl.
After a few minutes, carefully remove the bowl’s contents and place it on a dry towel evenly. Dab a towel over the herbs or spices to absorb as much water as possible.
Roll your towel until all herbs and spices are enclosed in the towel. Wait a few minutes for all the water to be absorbed. Air dry further if necessary.
Separate your stems and leaves if necessary for grinding if necessary. Now your herbs and spices are ready to be prepared and stored.
A big part applying herbs and spices to your dishes, is drying and sometimes grounding it for flavor preservation. This has been a tradition for centuries and lives on in today’s lifestyle. But there are several other methods that works just as well.
Just take note that is ideal to begin this process only after all moisture has evaporated from your crop to avoid mold.
The most common method of preserving herbs and spices is to dry them. Woody plants tend to be preserved best with this method. After this step you may grind your herbs or spices for use, but remember that whole herbs or spice have an increased shelf life than ground herbs or spice.
The first method is to form a paste, that is a combination of oil (olive, canola etc) and chopped up herbs or spices and freezing it in wax paper or trays.
The second method is to take resealable bags, add oil and whole herbs and spice and freezing it.
Leave butter at room temperature or lightly heat it in a pot. Apply chopped up herbs or spice into it and let it settle into a tray in the fridge for later use when cooking.
Take an empty resealable bottle and add your mixture of herbs and spices to it. Fill it up with your favorite cooking oil (olive oil works best) and seal it until it reaches the flavor you desire.
To my astonishment, I found that you can preserve herbs and spice with vinegar. But because it has such a strong taste, consider using light to mild vinegar to counteract it. You can use the same method as discussed under oil.
This method is considered a dry storage. You simply add intermittent layers of salt and whole herbs or spice to a jar and seal it. Remove the air if possible.
The same method applies that is used with salt preservation. The only difference is, that if you want have a sweet taste upon using it, you can replace the salt with sugar. This is ideal for treats that use lavender or mint.
This post wouldn’t be complete without answering a few questions you may not have thought of; just to broaden your perspective. ;P
Herbs and spice species have different harvest times but follow these instructions for the basic procedure. Allow your crop to grow to a decent size and only trim a third of the crop to allow the plant to recover. Also, do no prune prior to the cold season if the crop is perennial.
Certainly! Because you control the environment it is dried in, you avoid mold growth as well as the long time it takes to complete the process. It is definitely an herb drying machine!
Apart from the container being sealed tight, you can take the extra precaution of keeping the cupboard it is stored in cool and dry as well.
Yes, in a hot climate herbs and spices tend to clump together, especially ground herbs and spices.
Again, thanks for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. In my next post I will review the Excalibur Food Dehydrator. If you would like to read my previous posts, click on the links below.