Growing a cocktail garden: Part 3- Drying HerbsJuly 18, 2014 -- Published by Tara Shinn
You cocktail garden should be in full bloom at this point (refer to How to Grow A Cocktail Garden: Part 1 or 2 to catch up!), but what if you have more herbs than you can use or give away? Simple- dry them! Dried herbs fresh from the garden have way more flavor than anything you can buy in the store and keep that flavor for up to a whole year! There are literally a zillion uses for dried herbs in cooking, baking and cocktailing, so why not make sure your garden goes to use all year round!?!
Step 1: Snip your herbs.
Most herbs have the most flavor in the early morning hours, so try rubbing or breaking a leaf or needle and smell it to make sure they are super fragrant. Be sure to pick the best looking sprigs, and make sure you use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a crisp cut right above any offshoots so they will continue to grow. Don’t worry about hurting the plant, as long as you only cut 1/4 of the foliage it will actually stimulate the plant to grow bigger! You’ll want to make sure there are no dirt or bugs on the plants, so thoroughly rinse them in cold water then pat completely dry with paper towels.
Step 2: Bundle your herbs.
Bundle loosely with string or hemp cord. If you have a lot of herbs to dry, split them up into smaller bundles.
Step 3: Place them in a paper bag.
The best bags are the ones liquor bottles come in, so make sure you are saving them every time you buy a bottle of Clique Vodka! Store the bags upright in a warm dark place like the pantry or closet. Different herbs will dry differently but in the summer heat most will take about a week.
Step 4: Store them properly.
Airtight jars or canisters work very well to keep out unwanted moisture. You can pluck the leaves from the stems, or keep them intact- just remember that once a leaf is crushed the flavor will start to dissipate. Not quite sure how to use dried herbs in cocktails? Stay tuned for the followup post on Making Herbal Sugars!