This post is more a reminder than anything else. Summer is coming to an end (thank goodness!!) and it is time to preserve those herbs you have been growing all season. If you are like me, you would have barely made a dent in them. A litte snip here and a little snip there doesn’t use much.
But drying them is another story. A big bunch will dry down to a small jar which should last you until next summer’s fresh ones are flourishing.
Mixed herbs (sometimes called Italian blend) is a very common herb mix in Australia (I am not certain about other cultures.) I expect there is a little jar of it in most Australian households, even (or especially) where there is no avid cook. We tend to sprinkle it in, or on, anything vaguely Italian: Bolognese sauces, pasta dishes, pizzas, etc. I have heard Italians complain that a typical Australian Bolognese sauce is much more herbie than an authentic Italian equivalent. I guess we just like our mixed herbs.
This year I grew sage, thyme, basil and oregano and I have rosemary galore. So I decided to make some mixed herbs. I know I should have had marjoram but I didn’t think that far ahead when I was planting them:( Maybe I will add some dry marjoram later. I didn’t add garlic because I prefer to add that fresh.
I just grabbed a handful of each herb, gave them a wash and a shake and put them in my dehydrator. The next day, when they were all dry and brittle (they dried at different rates, therefore, I just took them out when each variety was ready), I crunched them up with my hands, put them through a very coarse plastic strainer and discarded the stems. The above bunch made two small jars (one for each house).
If you want to be more disciplined about it, you should dry your herbs separately and then make up your mix. The blend, according to Ian Hemphill in his wonderful book, Spice Notes, is:
4 parts basil
3 parts thyme
2 parts marjoram
2 parts oregano
1 part sage
1 part garlic flakes
1 part rosemary
A long as you use the same size utensil for all your measurements, ie, a teaspoon, tablespoon, etc, you will be in business.
I have also started to dry my herbs separately. It was the basil and the oregano’s turn this week. Next week, it will be thyme and sage.
Don’t forget, you don’t have to use a dehydrator. The sun is traditional but also consider a fan forced oven (with only the fan on) or on the back window ledge of a car parked in the sun.
I’ve not dried herbs in some time, Glenda. My last home had more space for a garden and at Summer’s end, I’d either tie them up for drying or pack them in salt (thanks, Martha Stewart). This may all change this year, though. I’m replacing my garden containers and I’ve been thinking of saving 1 or 2 for herbs. We’ll see … 🙂
To be honest John, the herb we used the most this summer was parsley followed by mint. Maybe you can find room for just two
I loved your ‘still life’ of herbs at the top of this post. It would make a lovely picture, framed for the kitchen wall.
In the UK, the most common mixed herb blend is Herbes de Provence – a marketing concoction unrecognisable to anyone in Provence.
I don’t grow a lot of herbs because I end up not using them but I always have enough to get me through the winter, either tied on the kitchen airer to dry or frozen in water using ice cube trays and then bagged.
Your post made me realise that summer will come again as I watch the snow come down.
Hi Pat. Thanks for leaving a comment and the compliment. I don’t think our ‘mixed herbs’ would be recognisable to many Italians so I wouldn’t worry that your Herbes de Provence is not recognisable to the French:) I bet you are looking forward to spring as much as we are looking forward to autumn.
I’m nearly convincing myself that I need a dehydrator!
Tandy, it is amazing how much I use mine. When I got it I didn’t know whether I would or not, but I do big time. I use it a lot in summer for fruit, veg and herbs but I use it all year round to dry liver for my dogs. I am sure your two would love dried liver!!!
I love your dehydrator Glenda. What sort is it? I have a round one and I’ve often thought how much more practical it would be to have a square one, especially when doing fruit leathers.
Hi Christine. It is a Nara. I love it.