DRYING YOUR HERBS
Homegrown herbs have an amazing flavor and are easy to grow.
Drying herbs keeps the flavor of summer alive throughout the year.
1. Pick your herbs. Herbs taste best if they are picked and dried before they flower. Pick healthy looking sprigs of herbs on a dry day before it gets too hot. Then you have the option of air-drying or oven-drying them.
2. Air-dry. To air-dry herbs, tie sprigs of herbs together into a bunch by the stems and put it upside down in a paper bag. Make holes in the paper bag to allow the air to circulate, tie the bag closed with twine around the stems and hang it by the tie in a warm, dry room. Check every couple of weeks until completely dry.
3. Oven-dry. To oven-dry herbs, spread leaves or sprigs onto trays and put them in a cool oven (110-130°F) for three to four hours or until completely dry.
4. Store dried herbs. Crush the dried herbs and store them in airtight (preferably dark) containers, or store as whole leaves and crush just before use.
Canning is a popular and age-old way to preserve the summer’s bounty.
Here are some basics to get you started.
1. Fill mason jars. To can (also known as bottling), pack chopped or whole fruit or vegetables into sterilized jars and cover with syrup, water, or brine, or fill jars with fruit or vegetable puree. Do not fill jars to the top; leave a 1/4- to 1/2-inch space.
2. Seal the jars. Close the jars loosely and heat them in a water bath or pressure cooker, which kills any microorganisms and drives the air out. Seal the jars, and as the contents cool, this creates a vacuum in the jar.
Canned fruits and vegetables should keep for about a year, depending on the variety.