Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Further Adventures in Preserving Herbs

After doing all the research I told you about in the previous post, I decided to try my hand at all three of the different methods of preserving herbs! Admittedly, I don't have that many plants to preserve, and so I don't know how worthy my efforts are. But it's fun trying!

As I said before, I have two different types of basil on the balcony: sweet basil, and summerlong basil. The sweet basil leaves are broad and glossy, dark green. Those I decided would be best suited for freezing. I don't have too many leaves yet, so I only picked half a dozen to freeze. I figure I can just keep picking them as they grow through the summer.

The summerlong basil, my other variety, has much smaller leaves and has branched out a bit more than the sweet basil. So those, I decided to dry. I know the material that I posted before recommended basil for freezing because of the high moisture content, but the differences in my two varieties made me think that the summerlong would be okay for drying. We shall see! I have two bundles of three branches each, and they're currently hanging in my closet. But I realized as I was hanging them up that I have no idea how long it will take for them to dry sufficiently! If they're not done in a month when I move, I suppose I'll just take them with me!

Since I'm growing everything in pots, and I grew many of them from seed, I put too many seeds in each pot because I was afraid some of them wouldn't grow. After they started growing, I thinned them out a bit, but I have a feeling they're still too close together. There were four individual plants in my summerlong basil pot, which I know is too many! One poor plant was dwarfed and hidden under/behind the other three, so I decided to just pull the whole thing up to give the other three more room to grow. Those leaves were too tiny to really do anything with -- except freezing them in ice cubes! It took me a while to tear all the itty-bitty leaves off, but I think the ice cube route will be ideal for them. (In the picture, three of the cubes are filled with water and the other three are waiting.)

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