Drying Tarragon

Again with the food dehydrator. I’m going to run this machine into the ground!

The Internet says that tarragon doesn’t retain its flavor when dried, but I gave it a whirl last night anyway…and as far as drying an herb goes, it’s one of the easiest! The brittle leaves pull right off the stems with little trouble and little extra stem-y bits mixed in.

The smell is nice, so far, but I haven’t tried it in a dish. The real reason I’m trying this is because my favorite post-lunch tea at work, Tazo’s Refresh Mint, is just mint, tarragon, and spearmint. I have two of the three in my yard, so why not try a little homemade herbal tea?

Thyme Flowers

Now that I have a food dehydrator, I’m drying as many garden herbs as I can before they pass their prime.

Turns out you can dry thyme flowers…they’re edible and taste great! Plus allowing your thyme bush to flower doesn’t affect the herb’s taste, although pinching off the flowers may encourage the plant to grow more leaves. Which, not being a problem for me, I’ve decided to leave the latest batch of flowers on the bush.

Drying Herbs

Drying herbs, sage and thyme

The above photo is from my first drying session, late summer. Pick your herbs mid-morning, when their oils are strongest but they aren’t all dew-covered OR wilted from the mid-day sun. This is especially key for sage! I rinsed my herbs to get rid of any bugs, threw them in the salad spinner, and let them dry a little more while I prepared the bags. You don’t want any mold-causing moisture. Actually, for this drying session, the sage was still pretty damp so I gave it a session with my hairdryer in the bathroom (and got side-eye from Nick for it, if I remember correctly).

I used a hole-puncher on folded up paper lunch bags, bundled the thyme and sage into little bouquets, and tied them off with kitchen twine before hanging them inside the bags (held near the folded top with a binder clip).

You want to keep these somewhere dark where air regularly circulates. I chose the bottom shelf of my pantry cabinet, which gets opened often. We’re a bit limited on dark, cool spaces around here.

You can check on their progress periodically, but I didn’t bother, I just processed them into little Mason jars a month or two later, when I had the time.

Thyme, rosemary, and sage, dried and packaged

Thyme on the left, rosemary up top, and crumbled sage on the right.

For my second round of drying, I grabbed more thyme, more sage, and newcomers parsley and rosemary (why, I’m not sure, since rosemary grows everywhere in Seattle…particularly downtown, where I’ve heard they plant it to cover up the smell of urine from the homeless—or possibly the evening revelers).

Parsley was a terrible mistake (it turned brown and didn’t really get crisp), which I’m bummed about because I ran out of dried parsley a few months ago and can’t bring myself to buy more when I KNOW the garden’s going to be overrun with it again this coming year. I also now have a food dehydrator on my wish list, but until then, I’ll be attempting to dry parsley in the oven vs. a bag.

The rosemary dried just as well as the thyme and sage, though. I’ll probably send some to my folks’ back east since no one around here needs it!

An Update on What’s Already Truckin’ for 2015

Rhubarb

Aw, look how weird and charming baby rhubarb is. This isn’t red rhubarb, but green rhubarb, which tastes the same but is much more productive. Nick’s mother’s trick is to put red food coloring into her rhubarb compotes. My solution was to make a strawberry rhubarb pie (right, just for the color!). The pie’s from last summer. Nick prefers straight rhubarb pie, so that’s on the to-do list for this year.

Garlic

Every single clove I planted came up! Including two I thought weren’t going to after most of them sprouted, so I shoved a couple more cloves down into the soil a couple of weeks later. Since those turned out to be doubles, I pulled up the weaker of each set.

Onions

A late fall cold snap (which included a tiny bit of snow) did some serious damage to these poor little seedlings. I planted leeks, Walla Wallas, and shallots each in a corner of a triangle-shaped bed, and I think only the leeks have survived. They’re still pretty shrimpy, though. Also, next year? I’ll be better about noting what I plant where in a bed. Sigh.

Chives

I planted chives both early and late summer and they did not make it either time. I planted some inside, in a small planter in a window, and forgot to tell Nick to water the pot on his rounds. Thumbs down on chives for me. Unless, watch, those suckers take hold and run wild like the parsley and borage did in summer 2014.

Harvesting Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes

Man, we are overrun with garlic scapes—the tender young tops of garlic plants…they’re delicious! Cutting them off encourages garlic to grow bigger, but, that seems to be in debate as well. Either way, I’m not worried about that, since I like the taste of them so much.

Good thing, because our CSA (from Growing Washington) keeps including them in our weekly boxes as well. I’ve been putting them in lots of things, but mainly we’ve been grilling them alongside asparagus or throwing them in with foil packets of green beans. Next year: pesto!