The heat has been stifling around here, topping at 103. Our home isn’t equipped with air conditioning (so I guess that makes us “green friendly”). Between spritzing rabbit ears with water and showing up at the doorsteps of friends to enjoy their AC, we are all just holding on until the weather changes. Tonight cool salty sea air is wafting through the windows and it is such a mercy.
One blessing the heat has given is in the rapid drying of the herbs I had hung in the barn. I had tried drying some herbs in the dehydrator, but in comparing the two methods, hang drying definitely maintained a more rich color, even though the dehydrator was on at a low temperature.
Last night I crumbled three quarters a gallon of oregano (Italian, anyone?), and today put away ample amounts of lemon thyme and sage. I’m almost miffed that I once thought spending $4 for a teeny jar of dried seasonings was reasonable. And, I’m feeling good about the lack of pesticides, lead, and bugs that are not getting ground up into my spice jars by impersonal machinery. And there’s just something about sitting barefoot on the porch steps, hands deep into dried chamomile blossoms, that makes the heat a bit more bearable. I saved all of the leafless dried twiggy stems for my friend to use in her woodstove this winter. Won’t that smell so good?
My first harvest of softneck garlic was already harvested about 6 weeks ago, and is now hanging in a mesh bag in the basement. The photo here is of hardneck garlic, that beautiful plant that puts out a single curly flower (called a scape) that, if you want large bulbs, must be cut off early and (if you like the unusual) be cut up and sauteed in butter. In any case, my plan for the good 7 1/2 pounds I got from my garden is to turn it all into garlic powder.
Fresh garlic powder is AMAZING. I made it for the first time last year. At an herb class I was teaching, I shared what I knew about garlic. First I opened up a store bought jar of powder, which was very pleasant as we passed it around. Then I opened up my own jar and WOW, everyone could smell it from across the room! We loved it on everything, and even used it on our wounds (mixing with a bit of raw honey, and covering with gauze and tape).
This is a great book if you are interested in trying this on your own. Also, the Internet is full of resources to help you grow, harvest and use your own fresh and dried herbs. This year, don’t let the thyme (or basil or sage…) get buried under snowfall; pick and dry it now and let it remind you of hot summer days when the soup’s on.