The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dried herbs and Christmas dinner

Dried oregano

Drying basilOn a whim, I decided to air-dry some herbs this past summer. After leaving the plants on the drying racks for a few weeks, I loosely packed the dried leaves into jelly jars, only adding a lid recently since I was initially afraid that our high humidity would prompt the supposedly dried herbs to mold. While I was putting on lids, I crinkled each herb between my fingers and did a sniff test, deciding that the basil smelled just like summer, the oregano smelled just like the plants it came from (but not very much like store-bought dried oregano --- I really need to find a more intense-flavored variety), and that the chives and Egyptian onions weren't worth saving. Two successes out of four isn't bad for a first shot!

Christmas dinner

Then, in a Christmas relaxation of our low-wheat menu, I added the dried basil and oregano into the sausage and sauce for a holiday pizza. Delicious! I'm going to have to remember to dry more herbs in this ultra-easy manner next summer. And probably to plant some more fennel too since the seeds we harvested in 2011 are finally running low....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've been drying herbs for well over 10 years. Most of the time I put them in a dryer I got from a yard sale, which still works fine. I dried some sage "in the air" (read: on a wicker tray) when I accidentally clipped one of the branches. Usually the leaves of whatever herb I dry end up with mold or just look weird, but this time my "air drying" the sage surprisingly came out very well!

I would suggest you plant Greek oregano as that plant supposedly has a more intense flavor than many of the other kinds.

Chives: I've tried trying them, freezing them, etc. No luck. I've decided chives simply need to be fresh, so I have a small pot with them in the kitchen now.

And, of course, I have two rosemary bushes I bring in each winter that also sit in the south-facing window of my kitchen.

Drying is good! I've been surprised at the number of veggies you can dry as well. As the old commercial goes: Try it! You'll like it. :)

Comment by Nayan Fri Dec 26 10:58:37 2014
I have a Greek oregano with a bit of punch and a za'atar variety with lots of punch. Let me try to figure out how I would send you small plants and get a couple if cuttings started.
Comment by Charity Fri Dec 26 11:09:21 2014
When I was growing herbs I would put excess sprigs in the microwave for short spurts until they were dry, and then put them glass jars. They seemed to be quite tasty done that way and a great deal quicker than most other ways. It may be that because they go from fresh to dry more quickly they stay fresher tasting.
Comment by Sheila Fri Dec 26 22:22:21 2014
I really appreciated everyone's comments on this post! Mostly because it reminded me that I really do need to bite the bullet and try Greek oregano rather than the unnamed variety I currently have. I'll have to add it to my seed order this year....
Comment by anna Sun Dec 28 16:56:58 2014

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