A Simple Healthy Herb Garden

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A few years ago I started collecting a few small herbal plants.  I now have basil, oregano, rosemary & parsley.  The cool thing about green onions, you can take some with roots from the package you get from the store.  Stick them in a pot of dirt and you’ll never have to buy green onions again!  Choose what herbs you already cook with.  I started it because I read how the stuff you buy in the jars is full of chemicals to disinfect all the bugs and ‘fertilizer’ that accidently gets mixed in with the leaves!  Yum.

 

They are easy enough to grow.  You mostly have to remember to water them!  And they will need a certain amount of sunlight.  Each plant should have a little plastic thing in the pot that tells you what its water and sunlight requirements are.  It would be optimal if your kitchen window was sunny enough, but I’m not that lucky.  All my plants are in the back yard.  I keep them in flower pots because it’s easiest to control the soil, and in Florida we have to deal with bad weather and all kinds of bugs.

So I have these cute little herbal plants, I try to remember to go out and cut what I need before each meal, but that only works when I’m not in a hurry!  And my husband never remembers when he does the cooking.

I brought some leaves in and put them in the refrigerator and they just sort of wilted and didn’t look very appetizing!  I googled drying herbs and they said to hang the plants upside down in a cool, dark, dry place!  I actually LOLed out loud – my typical Florida home has NONE of these!

In Walmart they have the cutest glass jars for dried herbs I’ve ever seen.  They have really nice labels you can write on and snap tops just like the stuff you buy.  Since they are clear, you need to keep them in a dark cabinet.

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I cut off a ton of leaves off my very big basil plant.  Don’t destroy the plant and leave a few leaves for when your recipe calls for fresh herbs.  You can trim off the longest branches of the plant and it will continue to grow!

I placed the basil leaves on parchment paper on my largest cookie sheet.

I preheated the oven at 200 degrees. Turn off the oven and THEN put the leaves in.  I’ve been told that if you make it higher, you will lose all of the essential oils and taste inside the leaves.  Because the leaves shrink down so much after drying, it took an entire plant to make half a jar of dried basil.  But it’s a decent size jar.

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I made sure that the leaves were not over lapping, otherwise it takes longer for them to dry.  But it they are not completely crumbly in your fingers, you can stick those pieces back in the oven.

Line your work area with a paper towel under your herb jar and just start crumbling.

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And that’s pretty much it!  Now your herbs are dried they will last longer and be at your fingertips when you are ready to cook with them!  It’s really simple to do.  You really can’t mess it up!

One more tip, when growing your herbal plants, don’t let them flower.  The plant will send all it’s resources into the flowers and you will not get as good a flavor from the leaves.  So pinch or cut off those flowers as soon as you see them!  Here is what the budding flowers look like on the basil plants. They are the small pointy things on the tips of the stems.DSC01081

Let me know how it went for you!  It’s really not that hard, and it will eliminate one more nasty chemical assault on your body!

Have a great day!

Donna

 

 

 

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