Time for Thyme
Sunday, October 03, 2010
The nighttime temperatures have been falling since our September 21st frost date. It smelled frosty late yesterday afternoon, the sky was clearing, and the wind had died down to nothing. Sure enough, there was frost on the lawn this morning.
I was very busy yesterday picking tomatoes, okra, green beans, and herbs and bringing in my worm bins, tropicals, and houseplants. Both my dehydrators are full of sage. I also harvested the last of my thyme. I could have partially filled another dehydrator with thyme, but it air dries so well that I decided to save the electricity!
Bundling and hanging the herbs in a dry, dark place (or hung inside paper bags if your drying area is light) is the traditional method. I found a triangular wire mesh basket at a garage sale last season that works very well for the purpose. It also looks good enough to use as a centerpiece on the dining room table while the herbs are drying. Cookie sheets or metal trays with wire cooling racks set in them to hold the herbs (so air can circulate around the them) would work just as well—they just don’t look as nice.
When the thyme is totally dry, I put the twigs into plastic zip-top bags and roll them between my hands to knock off the tiny leaves. Then I pull the bare twigs out of the bag and add them to the compost pile. The tiny leaves gather in the bottom of the bag. After skimming the last few twigs off the top, I transfer these to labeled jars or zip-top bags.
Herbs are a very good barter item. This last batch of herbs will be used as barter for eggs in November and December. A friend of mine who raises organic eggs and meat will trade pullet eggs for herbs gladly. The dried herbs will keep just fine until her young hens start laying at about the time that I run out of eggs from my own hens. (I let the girls naturally stop production each year as the days shorten.)
The great thing about herbs is that you can easily get several cuttings per season, so there is plenty for your use and for barter, even if you only have space for a half-dozen plants. The trimming just makes the herbs bushier and more productive for the next cutting. Begonia
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Dry Thyme in a Wire Basket
It also make a fine centerpiece!
Dry Thyme Ready for Bottling
After crunching the the bagged thyme twigs, the tiny dried leaves begin to collect in the bottom of the bag.
Removing the Leafless Twigs
Collecting the Leaves
Note the waxed paper under the jar. I use this paper a lot (although any kind will do) when working with dried herbs. It catches any spills so I can add them to the jar--I don't like to waste any of my precious herbs.
Bottled and Labeled
I will store this in a dark cool area of my pantry until it time to use it for cooking, barter, or gift giving!
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