Monday, August 20, 2012

Making Your Own Potpourri: Part 2

(And Drying Other Stuff Too)

This is the time of year to start bringing in the harvest.  So far this year, I have canned quite a few green beans, made tomato sauce, dehydrated many squash and figs as well as harvested tobacco.  We also have eaten many fresh strawberries and blueberries.

The one section of my garden I have not begun to harvest yet is the herbs.  That will be my focus for the next few weeks. The first thing I noticed today is that I have a second set of blooms on my lavender.  I use a lot of lavender for my potpourri and so it is time to dry it. This is the easiest no fuss way I have found to dry any herb! It will work for all those wonderful herbs you put in tomato sauce too!

You can also see how I dry other ingredients for potpourri here.

To start, cut the leaves or flowers of the plant you want to dry.  Here is a picture of the lavender before I cut it.

Grab a small brown paper bag.  It is best to use a separate bag for each herb.  Place growing tips of the plant into the bags.

Gather the cut ends of the plant in the top of the bag and wrap the stems and the top of the bag with a rubber band.

Store in a cool, dry place for a few weeks.  If you are harvesting quite a few herbs at the same time, you may want to label each bag so you will know what is what.

And that is it!  Now, if you wanted to, you could also use a dehydrator to dry your herbs or even a microwave oven.  I sometimes use the microwave if I need some for tomato sauce and need them dried quickly. Otherwise, I think the convenience of drying them in the bag outweighs the effort required to dry them in the microwave.

The only plant that this idea won't work for is tobacco.  (Tobacco isn't really an herb anyway.) Tobacco must be cured in a humid place with warm temperatures.  Well, I don't have any fancy place to cure my tobacco, so mine goes into the laundry room.  If it gets too dry, I mist it with a spray bottle.  Since I am in the laundry room almost everyday, I can check it often and mist as needed.  The tobacco should cure for about 8 weeks until it is leathery.  Since I am not curing it to smoke, after 8 weeks, my tobacco will be ready to use.  Commercially, tobacco is left for 1 year before it is made into a product to smoke.  Here is a picture of my tobacco hanging in my laundry room.  It is strung between two hangers with some upholstery thread.

Start harvesting those herbs and soon you will have some wonderful flavors to cook with this winter!

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