Thursday, July 12, 2012

Drying and Curing Veggies & Herbs from the Garden



There's lots of things growing in your garden right now (or waiting for you at the Farmers' Market) that you can dry and essentially preserve for use later on in the season. I personally think that is one of the most awesome aspects of growing your own- the ability to have a Winter's supply of some great thing you worked hard to grow! I know, I know- I'm a nerd. While I won't cover all of them in detail, and this isn't an exhaustive list, there's a lot to be saved from the garden come late summer/fall time!

Produce/Herbs that you can Store by Drying:
Almost any herb
Beans
Chamomile blossoms
Cilantro (into Coriander)
Garlic
Onions
Potatoes
Squash




Cilantro

When to Harvest:
You can simply let the plant flower. Little white flower clusters will form, which will soon form seeds. At first, these seeds will be green but then they will slowly dry from green to brown, then they will harden. 

How to Cure/Dry:
The nice thing about cilantro is it's very low-maintenance to dry. When the seeds are dry, you can just pull the whole plant out by the roots, and harvest the seeds from it. 

Long-term Storage:
Put seeds in a glass spice jar or air-tight plastic container. Grind into a powder as needed, and use in asian dishes (or any dishes, for that matter!)

Chamomile

When to Harvest:
The chamomile plant will produce little white flowers with yellow centers- they look sort of like daisies. Plants bloom in mid June-late July. When the petals begin to droop down, time to harvest! Pluck off the individual flower heads and new ones will grow.
How to Cure/Dry:
Spread flowers across on a dry surface in a warm, dry area for 72 hours.

Long-term Storage:
Store in a glass jar, a tin, or an air-tight plastic container. Put a tablespoon of blossoms into a tea bag for chamomile tea any time you desire!

Garlic
When to Harvest:
Garlic plants have corn-like stalks. When stalks start to turn yellow-brown with 5-6 green stalks remaining, it's time to harvest. Grab each plant firmly, near the base of where the plant meets the ground and pull.

How to Cure/Dry:
Garlic needs to cure (dry out) for a week + before it is stored permanently. If you don't have pest problems, harvest your garlic and simply lay it on top of the soil to dry, on your porch, or bring it in and lay it out in your mudroom.

Long-term Storage:
Once the stalks are completely brown and feel like parchment paper, you can cut them down to several inches in length. Garlic needs good air circulation in order to store well. I recommend a wicker basket, or if you only have a few heads of garlic, one of those ceramic garlic containers.




Onions
When to Harvest:
You can harvest onions then the tops/stalks have start to brown and droop towards the ground. (Or if you're impatient, whenever you want, as demonstrated in the picture) The longer you can be patient, the larger the bulbs will be. If you harvest them too early, just use them as a bulb and a green onion too!

How to Cure/Dry:
Lay onions flat out on paper or some other type of dry surface. Onions are like garlic in that they need to cure for several days for optimal storage.

Long-term Storage:
Again, like garlic, onions need good air circulation to prevent them from rotting during storage. A hanging wicker or mesh bag could work well for storage.

Best of luck as you try out some drying/curing at your own home.
I hope the tips are helpful!

1 comment:

  1. Especially nice pix, Arika. Did you see my garlic braid? Turned out really nice:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151127419935883&set=a.10150343410180883.406051.741385882&type=3&theater

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