Article by Nova Person
For anyone who wants to make optimal use of their flourishing fresh herb garden, this article will give you a rundown on the different methods of preservation and the best time to harvest those herbs.
When to crop and how to preserve your home-grown herbs has a lot to do with how you intend to use them once they are harvested. If this is your first time growing herbs, then the advice here will help you a plenty. It is all about timing after all and one can’t expect to know everything in the beginning. Growing and taking care of your herbs is an ongoing learning experience. One of the best pieces of advice is to get organized. Thinking a little in advance on how you wish to utilize your harvested herbs will prevent many errors and waste of resources further down the line. Don’t wait until the end of summer to decide what role they will have in your kitchen – planning ahead is key.
A good clue of when to harvest your herb garden, is to watch out for signs of budding flowers. If you can crop them before the flowers blossom it will reserve the plant’s natural oils and retain it’s scent and culinary taste.
Fresh Storage for Herbs
To store herbs in their freshest form, it is best to harvest them as mentioned before – just before the flower’s appear. Bring them inside, either just the leaves or with the stems attached. Before you store them it is good practice to give them a good wash under fresh running water. The purpose of this is to allow your herb to stay fresher for longer. If it is just the leaves you have plucked – place them in a self-sealing plastic bag – such as those you use to put sandwiches in. Another option which is particularly beneficial to herbs with the stem is to store them in a plastic air-locked container with a little fresh water. If this is your preferred option remember to change the water on a daily basis. Then just pop them in the fridge ready to have at hand to add to salads or other dishes.
Choosing to freeze your herbs is a very simple idea and you can store them throughout the winter months when your herb garden is dormant. Prior to storing in the freezer, blanch the herbs and put into a freezer bag, making sure it is airtight to prevent freezer burn. Another handy little trick and great when you want to add fresh herbs to soups or casseroles – is to pre-chop the herbs and add to ice cube trays with water. When you need to use them, just deposit the ice cube into the soup to defrost while cooking.
To give a plant a fair chance of surviving the winter, you must never cut it back bare towards the end of summer. Try to harvest for your dry herbs a little earlier in the season to allow enough re-growth. To dry herbs its better to take the stems as well as the leaves. The most common method is to strip down a few of the leaves to enable the bare stems to be grouped together and tied by string or an elastic band. Locate a dry place in your home with no or very little natural sunlight and hang the herbs up by the stem. When the herb has fully dried – normally after a 2 or 3 week period, take them down and strip the remaining leaves. Just as you would buy dried herbs – store them in a glass airtight jar or similar. The stems can be put on the compost heap and will play a part in mulching the remains of your herb garden.
The above methods will ensure you get the most use out of your herbs – so happy harvesting!
Nova Person has become an expert on herb gardening, owing to her 20 years of experience growing herb gardens at home. For anything you need to know about fresh herb garden, go visit http://www.GrowHerbsInfo.com
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