Herbal harvest

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Herbal harvest

This is the perfect time to harvest herbs from the garden, but I never think of it because summer seems barely to have arrived. But Rachel happened to ask about mint tea, which inspired me to locate, under some boxes of books, the drying rack I picked up at a tag sale last summer.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how many things we have to dry, and we’ll be pleased next winter when we’re using our own herbs instead of buying them in bottles. We have thyme, two kinds of mint, lemon balm, and oregano. There’s also a lot of cilantro and dill, which reseed themselves and turn up everywhere in the flower beds now. But cilantro and dill, like basil, don’t retain much flavor when they are dried, so I freeze them instead (not nearly so energy efficient).

If you grow herbs, this is the time to pick them, before they flower. Pick the leaves, or tips of branches, early in the morning after the dew has dried. For specifics, here are tips from the University of Illinois Extension (which, by the way, contradict some of the advice I gave above–we don’t have any problem drying lemon balm, and I don’t like dried dill!).

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