Drying Herbs-Parsley, Basil and Thyme

My herbs are growing like crazy this year!! And I really don’t want to waste them so… since I had success with drying mint leaves I thought I would try to dry some herbs, Parsley, Basil and Thyme.

There is nothing like fresh herbs to add to you recipes but over the winter it’s kinda hard to keep fresh herbs on hand and those little packets of herbs you get at the store are not always in the best condition and they can be a little pricey too.

And even though I have a decent green thumb, I have never had success with herbs indoors. But now that I think of it, I have not tried since I moved in my house. Maybe I’ll give it a try this winter.

So, let’s get started. You will need paper plates and paper towels. I also used parchment paper to put the dried herbs on before I crumbled them but you could use another paper plate.

You will also need airtight containers to store them in, you can buy cute little jars to do this or just save jars from jelly or condiments. Label each jar with the name of the herb and the year. The dried herbs should be good for a year.

After selecting the herb you want to dry first, make good cuttings and make sure you rinse off any dirt and bugs. I like to set the herbs in a glass jar with a little water to keep them fresh, then when the leaves are completely dry you can begin the drying process. You do NOT want to dry the herbs while they are still wet, the heat from the microwave will cook them instead of drying.

Parsley: This was a little bit of a challenge until I got it figured out! First I tried the oven knowing it would get brown, but I gave it a shot, but it stank! Smelled burnt instead of dried. Then I tried the microwave and they actually caught fire and threw sparks… What the HECK!!!

The first time I tried drying them in the microwave, I just put them on a glass plate like I did my mint. I was surprised when they actually sparked! Then I tried putting a shot glass with just a little water in it, back in the corner of the microwave. All that did was add more moisture which I figured it would but after seeing the sparks fly, I thought it was at least worth a shot! Lastly I used paper plates and covered the parsley with paper towels. And that worked like a charm!

       

Just lay out the parsley on a paper plate, a single layer, cover with paper towels and then nuke them in 30 second increments until they are completely dry and easily crumble when you touch them. Check the parsley after each 30 second increment. Depending on the parsley, the time to dry will vary. I had some stems that had large thick leaves and then I had some stems that had smaller, thinner leaves which did not take as long.

I also left the dried parsley sit on parchment paper for several hours before I crumbled them. You don’t have to do that but I just wanted to make sure they were completely dry.

Basil: Again, lay the leaves on a paper plate in a single layer and not overlapping, and cover with paper towels. Nuke them in 20 or 30 second increments. My basil leave actually left off steam as they dried. I may have slightly panicked at first but then I put a paper towel over them and the drying process went well.

Nuke them in increments until they are dry. I left the leaves sit for a few hours before crumbling. I did run across one or two that were not completely dry so I popped them back in for a few seconds until they were crumbly.

Thyme: I just love this herb, it has to be one of my favorites. I put it in just about everything; scrambled eggs, quiche, soups, roasts, pasta salads, LOVE it!

I did the same with the thyme, laying sprigs of thyme on a paper plate and cover with a paper towel. The thyme definitely dried quicker and that is because the leaves are much smaller and there is less moisture in the herb.

So I only needed 2 increments of 30 seconds and it was done. After a few minutes I just ran my fingers down the stem and the dried leaves just fell off! Then I folded the paper plate in half and used it as a funnel to slide the herbs into the glass jar.

This was a fun project that I did on a Sunday that was just too darn hot to be outside. I’m sure I will have more herbs later as the plants fill in again. And I plan on giving some dried herbs as gifts too. Better start saving more jars!

Drying Mint

I love growing mint, I use it for hot and iced tea as well as mojitos. I grow it in pots because of how invasive it is, and honestly, not only do I not have any other area’s in my gardens to grow it but I don’t want it growing all over the place!!

This year however, the mint didn’t come back as full and strong as it usually does. So I don’t have as much and it’s already looking a little sad. My last trip to the greenhouse I looked for mint but it was gone so I cannot plant more.

So, I am treating myself to one mojito every evening before dinner. And I am starting to dry some of it to use over the winter. I won’t have enough to last all winter but a little is better than none!

My recipe for iced mint tea and mojitos is here.

Last year I dried it in the oven but it turns a little brown, still good but brown. This year I tried it in the microwave and it turned out great! It’s still nice and green too.

I have 2 types of mint, don’t ask me what cuz I don’t know. If I had to guess and try to remember what I bought, I would say one is a type of spearmint and the fuzzy leaf is maybe an apple mint.

I put the clean and dry leaves on a microwavable plate, and nuked the leaves in about 20 seconds increments until they were dry. After each 20 seconds I checked on them to see how dry they were, then left them cool.

Next I placed all the leaves in a large bowl and crumbled them, and then put them in a pretty jar.

 

My next batch of drying the mint, I used paper plates and covered them with a paper towel and that was such a better way to dry them!

Hope you are all having a great summer!

Houseplants, Flowers and Butterfly’s

I have a deep imbedded love for houseplants and flowers. I think it started when I was quite young, maybe around 10, while I was visiting my aunt in Baltimore. She is also a houseplant and flower addict.

  

Anyway, she took me along to run her errands, one of those stops was a plant shop. She bought me a plant, and the addiction began.

I’ve had plants in my home ever since, even as a teenager I had plants in my room. To this day my aunt and I share plant and flower stories and cuttings.

  

I like to think I have a green thumb BUT there have been a few plants that I just cannot seem to keep alive. That doesn’t stop or discourage me although I do not like being the cause for a plants demise.

 

Same thing with my outside flowers and plants; I cannot get enough flowers for the summer! I have pots of annual flowers all over the front porch, back patio and even in the mulch beds. And my mulch beds are filled with perennials. I am always finding something new to me that sparks in my heart!

  

I still have a lot of empty spots in my flower beds that need filled in, so I am working on a list. Last year I bought some varieties of cone flowers, unfortunately the bunnies ate a lot of them and they never really grew after that. This year they are coming up nicely so I’m excited to see them bloom.

 

This is my third spring with my little lilac bush, my most favorite flower ever. Limelight hydrangea’s are also a favorite, I have 6 of those.

  

I like to hide little things in my flowers too. I have some trolls, one of which is doing yoga! And I have a small fairy garden set up for the granddaughters. I even have a frog doing yoga in one of the flower beds.

 

I also love butterfly bushes, the Black Knight is my favorite. And with all of these flowers, especially the butterfly bushes that I have, brings a lot of butterflies.

So now I “raise” them. I keep pots of parsley in all the beds, Black Swallowtails lay their eggs on parsley. And I have Butterfly Weed, Monarchs lay their eggs on that.

At the end of last summer I had 10 Black Swallowtail chrysalis’ that overwintered. All of them have eclosed this spring.

I had hoped to raise bees this year but there is a little bit of expense to start the set up. My home needs some attention and that is where I need to put that money this year, so maybe next year I can start beekeeping.

I suppose at some point I will no longer have room to buy anymore plants, I am getting really close but I’m not there yet!

I need more flowers!

For anyone that knows me and knows me well, knows that I love plants! Not only house plants, but I am equally in love with annuals and perennials. There are a ton of flowers I want for my yard and just do not have the place to put them. Whether it be due to the sun they need to the space they require for full growth.

I have been in my house for 5 years now, there were absolutely NO flower beds on the property when I moved in.

This flower bed was the last one that I added at the end of the summer last year. I desperately wanted bearded iris and roses but I didn’t have a good place so….

When I found these 3 iris plants reduced to half price at the end of the summer, I bought them and went to work to put in a new bed. Now I am looking for a raspberry colored rose bush as well as a beige colored rose. Then I will fill in the rest of the bed with perennials and pots of annuals.

Seriously, I go nuts with flowers over the summer. I am still filling in the other beds with perennials. Last year I found a gorgeous orange cone flower and some pretty asters.

Last year I also struggled with all the bunnies in my neighborhood eating my coneflowers! Thus the large concrete bricks you see along the fence. My yard is incredibly uneven so when the fence was installed, I ended up with gaps where rabbits, squirrels, and my dog, could get in and out.

Like a lot of you, we are having an early spring so my plants are coming along quite well BUT we still have some occasional chilly days and nights. I am so anxious to get out and play in the dirt and not have to worry about the temps.

Anyway, this particular bed is looking a little sad and lost right now and as soon as I can flower shop I will be filling it up for gorgeous blooms that warm my heart and make me happy to be home.

Be well my friends!