Today we say goodbye to Summer Thyme and welcome Autumn to the pages of Lemony Thyme. Our new homepage picture tells the story of our fresh herb journey. This Spring we made three whiskey barrel herb gardens for our back porch. They became the inspiration for Lemony Thyme as our cooking began to burst with flavor. We’ve nurtured them and they’ve nourished us all Summer long. While we still have a good bit of life in our herb barrels…we’re but a frost away from losing them until next Spring.
So today I did my research on how to dry fresh herbs. This is our first batch. I hope to be able to harvest a couple more rounds before Winter Thyme. I’ve already got a few ice cube trays of fresh herbs frozen in butter & olive oil in my freezer. Hanging on every way I can.
From everything I’ve read it’s recommended that fresh herbs be dried in small bundles. It’s best to harvest mid-morning when they are their happiest and to be sure they are free of dirt. Group a few sprigs of each together and tie with string. If the herb has large leaves like sage or basil, you can remove them from the stems and tie them off. Hang them upside down and suspend them from a string or board. Choose an area that’s out of direct sunlight for them to hang out for about 3 weeks before being transferred to glass jars.
I’ve been thinking about this day for months. The day I would retire my Summer Thyme header picture and replace it with a new picture of our beautiful herbs hanging by their toes to dry. Yesterday Shelby and I set out on a Saturday Thrift Store Adventure to find me the perfect coat rack to use for herb drying and to find her a used racket ball racket. I’d say I scored….she however is still searching :)
All the time I spent envisioning these hanging bundles of herbs, I never quite figured out what the back drop would be. And so this morning I’m sure I’ve taken a good hundred pictures trying to capture the spirit of Autumn Thyme. Uploading each new batch hoping for that Ah HAA! moment.
And then it hit me. Go back to where this all started. Those wonderful barrels that have spoken to me every day since spring.
Welcome Autumn Thyme. May you take on a life of your own and fill our kitchen with the flavors of your season.
October 21st ~ Three weeks later…
These guys have been hanging out for 3 weeks and are dry to the touch and quite brittle. They remain very fragrant when rubbed between your fingers. It’s time to move them into glass jars, where they’ll wait for their chance to shine in a nice Autumn Soup or Winter Braise.
I carefully removed the leaves from their stems, leaving them whole. Whole herbs last longer than ground herbs, so when it comes time to use them we can crumble them with our fingers or grind them finely with our mortar and pestle. As with all dried herbs they should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Sadly not right beside your stove.
We have a great tiered shelf insert for our spice cupboard that allows you to see 3-4 rows of spices. At last count (right before I wrote this) we have 74 jars of herbs & spices, not including salts & peppers. Which leads to the next tip on storing dried herbs and spices – they are best when used within 6 – 24 months. Again, whole spices and herbs will last longer than dried, so whenever possible wait until just before you use them to grind them. If you’re not sure if your herbs have lost their flavor boosting ability? Give them a sniff…if you don’t detect a strong scent….toss them out. I’ll be putting my collection to the test this afternoon so I can make room for these beauties!