It’s been two weeks since I harvested the herb garden, and it’s been one of the most productive two weeks so far – thanks to rain and cooler weather. Last night, I briefly showered the herbs to rinse any debris off of the leaves, then I let them sit overnight. I harvest the herbs first thing in the morning, before the sun comes up. I’ve read that the fragrant and savory oils in the herbs are their strongest at the coolest part of the day. In my experience so far, this is true. There’s nothing like the smell of the herbs in the morning – the sweet clove smell of the basil, the spicy and sticky sage, the soapy perfumed marjoram, and the piney oregano all blend together into a delectable aroma on my fingertips as I trim the plants.
Munching their way through a sampling of scrumptious plants, I discovered a few cabbage worms. They were full of “eleven herbs and spices” and obviously enjoyed a nice life before I came along. Enough said.
This was the first time I’ve harvested the oregano. I have two varieties: spicy Greek and sweet Italian. You can easily tell them apart by their leaves. The sweet Italian has fuzzy leaves. Along with the oregano, I also harvested a good bunch of marjoram, a couple fistfuls of sage, a handful of thyme and a bunch of oregano.
As usual, I hang them upside down on the stems in a dark, dry and ventilated closet, covered with a black plastic bag to keep the dust off. Drying them upside down allows gravity to pull the oils from the stems into the leaves. It takes several days – each type drying at different speeds, then I remove the dried leaves from the stems and place them in sealed bags inside jars, then I seal the top of the jar with Press n’ Seal. For the next couple of weeks, I am mindful to open them up every few days to let fresh air and let them cure slowly that way.
Basil takes the longest to dry, but it only takes about six days. Basil leaves have a much higher water content than other herbs and some sources suggest not drying basil in this way because of potential mold problems. I have not noticed any problem with mold and monitor that pretty closely. If a leaf turns darker than the rest, I discard it.