Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting Ready for Winter

With all the cold and rainy weather we've been having, I can't help but remember that summer is coming to an end. With that in mind, it's already time to start preparing for the dark, ominously produce-absent winter months. If you have the freezer space, the RFC recommends starting to freeze peppers, tomatoes, and even onions. Tomatoes need to be de-skinned, peppers need to be de-seeded and onions need to be chopped -- but trust me, it'll be worth it when your only options are either goods that have shipped across the country, or going without.

One thing I've been doing is drying herbs. It's always so much better to use your own than to buy that little glass jar in the spice section. Some folks use a commercial electric dehydrator for this purpose, but my mom informed me that you don't have to use one. Just laying the plant onto paper towels and placing it out of direct sun in good air circulation is enough; it just takes about three times as long. I've had some basil going for a couple of days now and slowly but surely it's drying out. I did have to find a place to put trays of basil for days on end, but since I don't own a dehydrator, this is a great way to put away basil (and other herbs like thyme, oregano and rosemary) for year-round enjoyment! My mom seems to always have herbs drying -- it's easy to set up trays and check them every day. Put the dried herbs in glass mason jars when you're finished and create a lovely spice collection from your own herb garden.


  1. That's odd - I never heard of your drying method. I thought you had to hang the herbs upside down and out of sunlight for a few weeks to dry them out.

  2. I don't think you have to do anything; I'm sure some methods preserve the nutrients and flavors in herbs more than others. I've consumed plenty of my mother's herbs, which have been dried this way, and they seemed okay...but I'm no expert! Any tips on better methods of drying herbs would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Hi sarah,

    For fast drying with the assurance of crip, dust and mildew free (a problem in this area in less you are operating in A.C.) herbs an electric dehydrator is nice.... however even basil in the one I have take about 24hours and When I dry alot of stuff that adds up to some measure of electricty usage.
    My Father-in-law made a nice drying rack for my mother-in-law with wire mesh shelves framed out in wood that can slide in and out of a wooden frame. The mesh and open ends allow plenty of air movement. She hangs a flour sack towel over the very top to keep out dust etc. while the herbs are drying.