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By Tracy Lyons
Detailed harvesting instructions for all of our seed kits can be found in the "Tending and Harvesting Guides." Note that many of these guides contain information about feeding with tablet nutrients, which are no longer used. You will receive a bottle of new, improved liquid nutrients with your seed kit. Feeding instructions are printed on the nutrient package.
To watch a video demonstrating how to prune and harvest herbs, click here.
If you harvest more herbs than you can use right away, you can store them in the refrigerator for several days. Some of the high water content herbs such as basil, parsley, savory, cilantro, chervil and mint keep best if stored upright in the refrigerator with their leaves kept relatively dry, but with their stems in water. Most of the low water content herbs such as sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme prefer to be stored in unsealed bags in the fridge, with a piece of paper towel inside the bag to absorb condensation and to moderate humidity.
Drying Herbs in the Microwave - Quick and Easy!
Use about a teaspoon of crumbled dry leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh herbs.
Drying Herbs - Traditional Method
All herbs can be dried successfully with the proper technique, but the easiest herbs to dry are those with lower water-content: sage, dill, savory, oregano and thyme. If you want to dry the juicier herbs such as basil, cilantro and mint, extra care must be taken to make sure they do not develop mold before they dry completely.
To dry herbs, harvest whole stems (with leaves intact) and bundle 4-6 stems together at the base with a rubber band. Make sure the rubber band is tight enough to continue to hold the herb stems as they dry and shrink. Take a small brown paper bag, label it with the name and harvest date of the herb, and poke quite a few holes in the bag for air circulation. Open the bag fully to allow for maximum air flow. Place the herb bundle upside down in the bag, and gather the opening of the bag around the stem ends, tying them up together with a piece of string. Make sure the herbs are not too crowded in the bag, or mold can result.Hang the bag so that the herbs are upside down in a warm room with good air circulation. The bag will help absorb moisture and wick it away from the plants, as well as protect the herbs from light, which will help assure maximum retention of flavor.
Check the herbs inside the bag in about two weeks to see how they are drying. Check every week or so until they are completely, crispy dry before placing them in airtight containers for longer-term storage. Zip-close bags will work, but glass jars with tight-fitting lids are preferable, as they are more airtight than plastic bags. Again, make absolutely sure the herbs are bone dry before placing them in airtight containers. Remove the leaves from the stems when they are dry, and store the leaves whole until ready to use. The leaves will retain more essential oil and therefore more flavor if left in whole-leaf form until ready to use.
Freezing herbs is just as easy as drying them. Frozen herbs keep their fragrance and flavor for 3 - 4 months and are ideal for adding to soups, stews, braised dishes and sauces. Chives don't freeze well, try drying them instead.
To make herbal ice cubes:
You can freeze whole sprigs of herbs simply by layering them in self closing freezer bags (not too many layers) and laying them flat in the freezer. Place quart-size bags of herbs in one gallon-size bag to consolidate. Now you can use only what you need when you need it.
Don't expect to use frozen herbs as a fresh garnish - they will turn black as they thaw.
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