Monday, July 14, 2014
Freezing :: Drying :: Foraging
I have managed to make some time lately to do some preserving of this and that. I find I usually have to psych myself up and then just take a deep breath and dive in, this time of year. It seems kind of silly, really, but there you go. In the winter, I had dreams (like every winter, I think) of the bounty of herbs I would harvest - wild and tended - to fill jars in my little herb "pantry". But: I am making an effort to readjust my perspective to gratitude for what I do manage to get stored away, rather than wasting time in comparisons to others' harvests and my own high hopes. Every little bit is more than I had, and every little bit teaches me something and emboldens me to try a little more. So now, scattered around the house in various stages of drying, are batches of mint, calendula flowers and lemon balm. I'm hoping more will join them soon, bit by bit.
I'm still trying to figure out the best way of drying these herbs. I have a dehydrator which I've used in the past but am trying to find a workable non-electric way. Our days get so humid here in the summer that it's a bit hard. A solar dehydrator is on our wish list to build, but that is not now. So I'm trying just laying the cuttings out on cooling racks or baking sheets, and I also decided to try hanging some in paper bags with holes cut in the sides to let the air through. Any ideas?
I've also been itching to head outside and harvest some things to add to our meals, but there's not too much ready to pick in the garden right now (kale, chard, herbs, tiny little zucchinis is about it). I recently learned that you can eat day lily buds, so yesterday I grabbed some and added them to a stir fry of broccoli and tiny zucchinis (for some reason once our zucchinis get a little bigger than finger-sized, they turn yellow and shrivel up). I grabbed a couple nasturtium blossoms while I was out there, and gave us each one on top. They were both so good! Such little harvests, but they make me happy: despite their size, they are our harvests, and we're learning all the time, and each step leads to another.