pickled + preserved

keeping herbs: harvest and preserve

With all the towering plants (tomatoes and tomatillos) doing us proud in the raised beds, the groundcover below was quietly gaining steam. That includes: strawberries (white) , carrots, green onions, peppers, and herbs.

strawberry-bloomwhite-strawberries

When we decided to finally call it a season and yank the big guys out, everything below blew up until the temperatures started to drop. The peppers didn’t take much of that.

Our frost cloth may not have been able to save the peppers from freezing to death, but it has kept everybody else satisfied for the time being. Check out that parsley, you can hardly make out the overgrown catnip.

parsley-and-catnip-in-raised-bed
We have consistently been trying to pick all of the produce before another season rolls in (not always succeeding), so the other day I grabbed my favorite Goodwill basket and started collecting all of the parsley and catnip that was ready for the picking. It doesn’t get much worse than losing good produce to an early frost. (Kearney chose to watch from afar.)

kearney-cat

We have peppermint, spearmint, and chocolate mint growing as well, but we are going to let them go a little bit longer before their final harvest.

To pick parsley, you want to cut it near the base of the plant and start from the outside working your way in. To leave the plant feeling refreshed and ready to kick out more shoots, leave the growth at the center of the plant untouched.

picking-parsleycutting-parsley
For the catnip, I just went through the plant, picking leaves (almost recklessly) because it was the end of its season and catnip is able to regrow anything that’s removed. If you are harvesting and want to encourage the plant to fill out, snip from the base of the plant.

catnip
Once all the herbs were brought inside, I rinsed them with water to remove any dirt. Thanks to growing from organic seed and keeping our gardens au naturel, bugs and dirt are the only thing to clean off.

There are several easy ways to preserve herbs: freezing, dehydrating, even lightly baking them. Some herbs you can even leave in a glass and store in the fridge for a few weeks to keep them for fresh use.

To preserve ours, I chose to dehydrate parsley in our food dehydrator, setting it to the herb setting (about 95 degrees). I spread the mint out to air dry. When the leaves become extremely dry and brittle they are done.

parsley-dehydrating
After hours in the dehydrator, I removed the parsley and placed it on a plate. They weren’t all done at the same time, so it was a slow accumulation. I love the dehydrator for that reason. It is really hard to screw up and there is no ‘right’ way to the dehydrating system.

With the parsley and catnip perfectly crisp, I was able to crumble the leaves effortlessly into our handy air-tight Ikea jars we just picked up. Not bad for $3.99, eh? And of course they fit perfectly on our Ikea shelf. (You can just call our kitchen a personal Ikea showroom.)

ikea-jar

It’s only a matter of weeks before all the jars are filled with garden fresh herbs (two devoted to parsley), gotta love it.

kitchen-spices-from-the-garden

What about you guys? What herbs were successful and what are you squirreling away?

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