The time has come, I hate to admit, to ready my garden for the winter. I took one of the last glorious fall days, warm and sunny, to dig out what was left of my herbs. But, in true Cheftovers form, I had to do something with the stragglers. And since I don’t have a greenhouse to preserve the plants, I decided to try drying them in the microwave. It was remarkably easy and not as tedious as I thought. And when jars of dried herbs can run $5-10 each…why not give it a go?
After I transplanted all that I could into smaller pots close to the house, I trimmed up a bunch of basil, rosemary, and parsley. I took a long hard looks at the volume of parsley I had (looked like a bushel), and the thousands of little needles on the rosemary bush, and decided basil would be the only one I’d be experimenting with for now.
I plucked the individual basil leaves from the stems and placed them in a single layer on a paper towel. I also placed another layer of paper towel on top. Then it was time to fire up the microwave. Since mine doesn’t have temp control (low/medium/high), I only heated it for a short amount of time initially. And I didn’t want to burn them or start a fire with “dry” leaves on a paper towel. But I was banking on the fact that these freshly snipped leaves still had enough moisture in them.
After thirty seconds, I examined the leaves and was pleased that it was working! Not enough time yet…
So I put it back in for another 20 seconds, then another 15. Each batch varied in terms of size and number of leaves, but in the end each round I dried needed about 1:00-1:15 in the microwave.
I transferred the dried leave to a Ziploc bag and crushed them by hand. In the end I generated about 1 cup of dried basil leaves. As you probably know, that will get me pretty far (two full batches of Picciano family pasta sauce, in fact!) And all for free. Not bad!
As for the rosemary and the parsley I have…I opted for the tried and true “hang and dry” method. Besides, I think they look kinda cool in my kitchen.
I will probably need to give those a week or more to dry out completely. Then I’ll do the same with those (remove them from the stems and crush the dried leaves).
What are you doing to ready your garden for winter? I’m always looking for tips from those with a green thumb!