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Harvest Time

Sun, Sep 10th, 2000
Posted in

Monday, September 11, 2000

The bounty of the season is upon us. Everything is all coming at once. Vegetables, flowers and herbs are all ready for our enjoyment. Taste the fruits of your labor and be thankful.
The following excerpt is from Preserving Herb Harvest, reprinted from U of MN Extension Service Yard & Garden Brief, ‘Growing Herbs,’ by Jacqueline Thiebe

Air Drying: Gather 4 or 5 stems, and tie the ends together. Hang them upside down in a dark, warm, well-ventilated room. Label them, using small tags, as dried herbs will look different than fresh and mix-ups can easily occur. The foliage should dry in 7-14 days depending on conditions. This method also works well for drying seedpods and collecting seeds. To collect seeds, simply place a paper bag around the hanging herb with holes in the side for air circulation. As the drying process begins, the pods will open, the seeds will drop out and collect on the bottom of the bag.

Air-drying can also be done under the same conditions, using screen racks. Make sure the herbs are spread out only one layer deep. A cookie sheet or solid surface will not work as well, as only one surface will dry properly.

Oven Drying: Again, using a screen type tray, spread the herbs evenly and set the oven no higher than 100° F or at its lowest temperature. Keep the door open and check every thirty seconds. The herbs will dry very quickly, within a minute to a minute and half.

Microwave: Microwave ovens provide the fastest means of drying herbs. But because of different wattage and models, specific settings would best be determined by experimenting with your own microwave. Start with using 15-second intervals and keep checking the herbs until they are thoroughly dried.
Freezing: Freeze small quantities of herbs at a time. A few leaves or sprigs placed in a labeled plastic bag works well. The material can also be chopped up and packed into ice cube tray compartments. Top it off with a little water and freeze. Avoid freezing large quantities as they can't be refrozen once thawed. Properly frozen herbs should be used within a year.

Storage: Once herbs are dried, strip the leaves from the stems. Do not keep stems, as they tend to retain moisture long after the leaves have dried and may become moldy in storage. Store leaves whole if possible as the larger the piece, the better the flavor retention. Store the herbs in airtight containers. Herbs stored using these methods can usually last up to a year or year and a half. Keep stored herbs away from bright light and heat sources and check them periodically for any moisture buildup within the container.

Virginia Cooper gardens and writes from her farm in Mabel. She can be reached at the Extension office at (507) 765-3896, or via email: virgcoop@

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