You have taken care of and watched over your home herb garden like a mother hen over her chicks and harvesting day has finally arrived. You can now pluck those juicy fresh basil leaves for your chicken tom yam stir fry. And there’s enough mint for that special laksa soup. So what should you do now?
Before using your herbs, particularly those from your outdoor home herb garden a little preparatory work needs to be followed.
Like having to go to the store, you need to pick your crops from your home herb garden before you can use them. The difference is you should ideally do it at the right time, which is crucial if you want your herbs to be full of flavour and taste. You see, fresh herbs are susceptible to the day’s heat and their essential oils can be easily dispersed by the wind and heat. To pick your herbs at the wrong time would not be good.
The best time to harvest would be would be in the morning when the winds are not strong and there is usually no rain. This time is perfect because in such conditions, the herb plants will produce more oils than on a wet day.
The ideal time to bring in your crops would be when the dew has dried on the leaves but before the flowers open. Pluck out just what you need for the day although you can certainly gather more if you are thinking of drying, freezing or marinating them for use later. But do refrain from removing more than one third of the plants’ growth at one go as they will need the foliage left behind to help them to re-grow what has been harvested.
To ensure maximum enjoyment of your herbs, it would be advisable to check that there are no insects or damaged leaves amongst your harvest. These crops will then produce the best flavour for your cooking.
There are a number of ways in which your home herb garden crops can be preserved for future use:
– by drying them naturally or in ovens
– by freezing
– or by soaking them in a solution of vinegar
– or layering them between salt granules.
Preserving your home herb garden crops will provide you with herbs for everyday use all year round but the fact remains that the best taste and results can only be obtained from garden-fresh herbs picked directly from your home herb garden.
Do be careful to wash them properly before use! To do that, place the herbs into a container filled with cool clean water and rinse thoroughly.
For bigger quantities do the same, this time using the kitchen sink. Add salt of about two full tablespoons. As the quantity is larger you may not notice any insects hanging onto the leaves. The salt in the water will dislocate those otherwise hidden insects. Remove the herbs from the water and dry them using a salad spinner.
Not only do the herbs from your home herb garden have different uses, they are also harvested and prepared differently. It would be good idea to do some reading up on the herb you want to use beforehand. The correct use of a herb will ensure that perfect dish!
If you do not have the time, all this information and more can be obtained from one easy to follow and results guaranteed step-by-step guide, “Successful Herb Gardening ~ Step-by-Step.”
Shad is an herb gardening enthusiast and owner of the Herb Gardening Site. For more great tips on herb gardening [http://www.herbgardeningsite.com/amce.html] and home herb garden [http://www.herbgardeningsite.com/home-herb-garden/], visit herbgardeningsite.com, the one-stop resource for herb gardening enthusiasts.
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