You’ve planted your herbs and they’re flourishing; now it’s time to understanding using herbs from a home herb garden. Herbs have more than simply culinary applications. They can be used in oils as well as for medicinal purposes. Herb gardens do require some work, however.
If you cook at home on a regular basis, herbs can easily become a part of your life. Having your own fresh herbs at your disposal is much better than buying jars of them from your local supermarket. You’ll be harvesting what you need when you need it. When you harvest your herb plant is important as timing is vital.
When you plan on using the herb while you’re cooking, them picking the herbs when you need them is ideal. However, if you plan on drying or freezing them, you’ll want to harvest them when their flavor and aroma is at its peak. Don’t wait for the plant to be mature; pick young leaves several times throughout the growing season. Herb flowers should be picked just before or as they are blooming. Morning is always the best time to harvest the herb plant, regardless of when you plan to use them. Morning is when the concentration of oils and aromas are at their peak.
Many people believe that harvesting their herb plants according to the phases of the moon is best. You can use your own judgment here, as long as you harvest in the morning.
Having your own herb garden is wonderful because you don’t need to wash them before you eat. The flavor won’t dribble down the drain but instead will be robust within your culinary creations. Since you’re growing your garden, you won’t be using pesticides or chemicals. If you do wish to wash them, use the sink and add two tablespoons of salt to the water. This will eliminate any insects that are clinging to them without damaging the plant. Dry them in a salad spinner afterward. The one exception is parsley, which will keep fresher longer if steeped in cool water as soon as it’s harvested.
People generally preserve herbs in three different ways: freezing, drying, and preserving.
Drying is simple and convenient. Hang drying is easy, especially when you have large quantities of herbs. Use a ventilated, dark, and dry location to dry them. An attic or dark room is ideal. Tie small bunches together using rubber bands, twist ties, or elastic threads and hang them so that the air can circulate freely around them. Leave at least 6 inches between each bunch. Within two weeks, most herbs will be dry and crackle to the touch. The concentration of these herbs will be greater than freshly picked. Store in sealed jars or bottles in dark locations, such as within cabinets.
If you want to capture the full flavor of the herbs, freezing is recommended. Cut them into one-quarter inch pieces and place on wax paper inside a freezer. After they are frozen, place them in a sealed bag.
The third way to preserve herbs is by using either vinegar or salt. Using chopped mint or tarragon with vinegar is one example. This will preserve the herb for months. To make flavored salt, simply alternate layers of herbs between layers of salt. When it dries completely, simply separate the herb from the salt and store in a tightly sealed container.
Herbs will transform any meal into savory delicacies. Having your own herb garden will benefits to your cooking prowess you can only appreciate once you have your own herb garden. Using herbs from a home herb garden will always be better than buying jars from a store.
Jeff Stone is a long time lover of herbs and horticulture who has been growing his own for over 30 years. His book,Secrets of Successful Herb Gardening, written with his partner Amy Spalding, is a treasure of information for the home grower. For more information us using herbs from a home herb garden [http://www.herbalgardenmagic.com/using-home-garden-herbs] go to [http://www.herbalgardenmagic.com]
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