drying herbs

This is my rosemary bush. It sits in a bright blue planter, attached to a bright blue bench, which is the first thing I see when I leave the house. It’s been there a couple of years now, and started out as a teeny tiny little plant. Every now and again I snip a bit and put it in my dinner.

And this is the sage. This is in the front garden, so is now one of the first things I see when I go out of my lovely new stable door. I got this at the same time as the rosemary, planted it any-old-where, and it just grew and grew. I love things that do that.

I think I’m a herb gardener at heart.

A few weeks back I decided I needed to have a go at drying some of my sage and rosemary. I missed drying the lemon balm for tea, and the mint – not to worry, there’s always next year. But sage and rosemary I could manage.

I’ve never done it before, so had no idea how much fresh stuff would make a tiny little jar of dried. I cut ‘some’ – that well known unit of measurement – tied it together in bundles, and pegged it onto a bit of string under the stairs.

(and then spent quite a long time trying, and failing, to get a decent photograph without the flash on. Our house does ambient rather than functional lighting…)

Going up and down the stairs was a sensory treat for a week or two.

Apparently you’re meant to leave them hanging until they feel papery and crumbly, and last weekend they felt about right, and I had a bit of time, so down they came.

I’m not entirely sure what I was meant to do, but what I did do was pulled all the leaves off the branches, and then spent a fun 20 minutes or so crushing them all into little tiny pieces with my fingers, which smelt gorgeous for hours afterwards.

And how much dried herbs did I end up with?

Two tiny little dried-herb-sized jars of rosemary, and a little more of sage. Not very much at all in other words! (and the rosemary looks rather more green in real life than in that picture!) It really is quite amazing how much goes into making a jar of dried herbs, I won’t take them quite so much for granted from now on.

It’s not going to make an enormous difference to our food budget, but I really do love cooking with things I’ve grown, and the only thing I can reliably do round here like that is herbs. I can’t say I’ve nurtured them – I’ve done nothing really other than allow them garden room. I don’t even water. But it really is a Very Jolly feeling to be eating something created from your very own garden.

Must get back outside this weekend and pick some more. Peter acquired 12 little storage jars today and they’re crying out to be filled with herbs…

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