Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Fresh herbs, dried herbs and pots on the windowsill

I'm a bit of a gardener - only a little bit - but I have potted plants in most of my rooms. The kitchen is not spared because, for one thing it's one of the few south-facing bright rooms in the house and, for another, it's the ideal place to keep fresh herbs handy.

There's a trough just outside the back door with a selection of herbs in it too, but in winter they look a little tatty and it's a lucky day if I can manage to get a few useful leaves off them.

However, I have a tiny bay tree in the kitchen and a few pots of parsley at various stages of growth and harvest. These have all come from garden centres or supermarkets, bought growing in the pots, because I'm useless at growing herbs from seed. Don't know why, but there you go.

Meanwhile, if I want to indulge in something that bit special I'm not above buying a bunch of cut herbs when I go shopping. Trouble is, unless you eat curry every day you can end up with a lot of waste coriander that doesn't keep too well.

So what do I do with the leftovers? Dry them of course! It's so easy, and much better than watching them rot on the compost heap.

How to dry herbs

Any time that you've used your oven there will be residual heat that would otherwise go to waste. If you've got fresh herbs about you can preserve them with no trouble at all.

Get a baking tray and cover it in kitchen towel. Spread out your herbs as thinly as you can over the towel.  They dry much better if they don't overlap.

Switch off your oven and place the baking try in on the bottom shelf. Close the door and leave it for several hours, preferably overnight.

Next day check that they are dry. If not, just leave them on the side for a while. (As long as your kitchen doesn't get too steamy) They'll finish drying over the next day or so. If you have a naturally steamy kitchen you might need to warm the oven up again and repeat the process. 100C should be plenty.

Then all you have to do is put them in jars and label them.


No comments:

Post a Comment