502f1767ba9b3b17c3d8b7ebd93ec28c

With the onset of fall in my USDA zone 5, it is time to harvest herbs to enjoy gifts from my garden year-round.

carolemccraysm.jpg

Drying herbs inspires me to create herbal vinegars, herbal wreaths, scented potpourri, a fragrant sachet or an herbal bath bag. These make unique holiday host or hostess gifts. If your garden lacks herbs, you can find herbs at roadside stands and at country markets.

Air-drying is one method to preserve herbs. I just hang the herbs upside down in a cool, dark closet secured

with a rubber band and tied with string until they feel crisp to the touch. Then store in airtight jars. A garden shed or attic are good places, too, for drying herbs, placed out of direct sunlight.

To have dried flower heads for potpourri, spread the flower heads out in a single layer on a screen in a cool dark place. Once dry, place flower heads in an airtight glass container until you are ready to make potpourri.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a favorite culinary herb to dry. For best fragrance gather herbs early in the day when the heat of the day will not rob herbs of essential oils. After spreading the leaves on an ovenproof tray, I place it the oven set at 150 degrees for a few minutes. Rosemary needles are sharp, so run them through the food processor after drying. Store in an airtight container to use for flavoring meats, fish or poultry or for a brewed tea.

Rosmarinus officinalis

Dry lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) to put in bath bags and sachets. I place dried lavender blossoms in a muslin bag, (cut muslin with pinking shears to make the bag), tie it with ribbon and place it under the tub faucet so the water takes on the scent of lavender. For a sachet, I add dried lavender, mint and thyme and fill a pretty handkerchief tied with a lavender ribbon. To preserve the scent, I add a drop or two of essential oils of lavender to dried herbs in the sachet.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Melissa'

When I think of mint, tea comes to mind. I prefer apple mint (M. x gracilis) and orange mint (M. x piperita var. citrata). Place the dried mint leaves in an airtight tin. Pour boiling water over an ounce of the dried leaves and let them steep for 10 minutes and strain. I enjoy drinking the tea at dusk when there is a winter sunset.

Freezing is another way to preserve herbs. Freeze herbs in ice cube trays and drop a few ice cubes into soups or stews. Rosebuds, tiny marigolds and borage flowers frozen in ice cubes make a pretty garnish in a punch bowl or in drinks.

Herbal vinegars count on herbs for flavor. Search unique bottles at kitchen shops, flea markets, yard sales and antique shops to decant the herbs. Add olive oil to herb vinegars and use vinegars as salad dressings and marinades for meat, vegetables and fish.

Only use fresh herbs and flowers that have not been sprayed with any harmful chemicals.

My recipe for: Herbal Vinegar

  • Wash handfuls of a favorite herb. Place in a clean glass bottle or jar and fill the container with white distilled vinegar. • Set the container in the sun and steep for a week or two.
  • Strain to remove old leaves and sediment.
  • Pour the vinegar through a funnel into smaller clear glass bottles. Place fresh sprigs of the herb in each bottle for a decorative touch and extra freshness. (Use sterilized bottles run through the dishwasher).
  • Store herbal vinegars in a cool cupboard out of direct sunlight.
  • I like to add garlic, peppercorns or spices such as stick cinnamon, cloves or allspice to the vinegars for flavor and presentation.
  • Herbal vinegars make nice host or hostess gifts. For holidays, I tie a bright ribbon at the neck of the bottle, a sprig of holly and a tag with the name of the vinegar.

Carole McCray is an award-winning garden and lifestyle writer and artist who lives, writes gardens and paints in the scenic Laurel Highlands in southwestern Pennsylvania. She won the 2003 Garden Writers Award of Achievement for her article on Native Seeds published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.


Plant Care Reminders

Birch Monthly Plant Care
Trees Steve Brigham

Betula spp. (Birch) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
English Ivy Monthly Plant Care
Vines Pat Hammer

Hedera helix (English Ivy) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Hydrangea - Blue Bunny (Hydrangea…

14947 Proven Winners
Blue Bunny Hydrangea monthly plant care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Jasmine - Star (Trachelospermum…

2560 Steve Brigham
Star Jasmine Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Aeonium spp (Aeonium) - Monthly Plant…

9104 Solana Succulents
Aeonium Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Phacelia campanularia
Natives Ron Vanderhoff

Plant a Native Wildflower Garden

Spring used to mean wildflowers. I remember, as a young boy, exploring the hills around Irvine, Newport’s back bay, the wild areas near the Bolsa Chica reserve and the coastal canyons between Corona del Mar and Newport Beach.
Lady Bug Eating Aphids

Life and Death Struggles at play in your Garden

Not long ago gardeners seemed to spend as much time controlling pests as they did any other garden activity.

How to Grow 100 lbs. of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet

21131
Default Image
We found this great growing guide on how to grow 100lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet on…

Oscar Olson - Southwest

8803
Oscar Olson
Region: Southwest

Potted Plant Secrets, From the Ground Up

42021
Potted Plants
Growing plants in containers has never been more popular. It couldn’t be easier, right?

Plant Recommendations

Hedera helix 'Golden Ingot'

Gold Ivies - Southern California

Pat Hammer's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Gold Ivies for Southern California. 
Leaf Lily
Plant Recommendations Tania Marien

Favorite Plants To Draw

Tania's Favorite Plants to Draw

Shrubs - Mid-Atlantic

12988 Lois J. de Vries
Hydrangea paniculata
 Lois J. de Vries' Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Shrubs for the Mid-Atlantic.

California Natives - Southern California

5006 Susi Torre-Bueno
Salvia apiana
Susi Torre-Bueno's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite California Natives.

Must Have Tools - Southern California

6151 walter andersen
Walter Andersen
Walter Andersen's Top Recommendations: Favorite "Must Have" Tools.

Featured Plant Care

Birch Monthly Plant Care

Betula spp. (Birch) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Trees
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Elegant Clarkia

Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant Clarkia) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

in Annuals
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Kangaroo Paw Monthly Plant Care

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Bird of Paradise Monthly Plant Care

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Edit Your Tagged Photos!

How to Edit or Remove A Plant "Tag" In Your Garden Photos

Instead of 'Tagging' your friends on Facebook, now you can 'Tag' your Plants in your…
Seed Starting

10 Easy Cut Flowers to Direct Sow

in Seeds
A cut-flower garden or "cutting garden" allows you to bring the beauty of your garden…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)