The hardest thing about harvesting your fresh herbs and veggies is deciding what to do with all your produce.
Let’s jump right in and get started with your herb harvest.
What To Do With Your Herb Harvest
There are four main things you can do with your herb harvest:
- Dry them. Woodier herbs like dill, rosemary, savory, and sage are best for drying. Keep reading to learn how to dry herbs.
- Freeze them. Soft-leaved herbs like chives, parsley, and basil, are better frozen. Try freezing your herbs in oil.
- Grill with them. Add some fresh flavors to your next barbecue. Not sure how to grill with herbs? Here’s some good inspiration.
- Use them fresh! Use fresh herbs as a garnish, add them to salad dressing, or create a flavorful spread or side dish to compliment the rest of your meal.
Drying fresh herbs is one of the most common methods of preservation, but there is no “bad” way to use your fresh herbs, so get creative and use them however you want.
How to Dry Herbs
There are three main methods you can use to dry herbs:
1. Hang Drying
Gather together 4-6 stems of whichever herb you’re drying using an elastic band. If your bundles are too big, they won’t dry properly. Suspend the bundles from a piece of string from the ceiling or a clothes hanger and let them hang until they are completely dry and crispy to the touch.
2. Flat Screen
You can also dry your herbs by laying them flat on a screen (the screen encourages air flow on all sides). Flat drying is perfect for small-stemmed plants like thyme, chamomile, and flower petals. If you’re drying longer-stemmed plants this way, remove the leaves from the stems first.
Spread your herbs in a single layer and cover with cheesecloth or paper towel to keep the dust away. Stir them daily to make sure they dry evenly.
3. Oven Drying
Oven drying is a tricky business. You need to maintain a low enough oven temperature – no more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of 2-6 hours – and stir your herbs regularly to ensure they don’t over-dry.
If you smell your herbs while they’re drying in the oven, they’re too hot and are losing precious flavorful oil. Completely dried herbs will be crisp but colorful. If they’re brown, you dried them too quickly or at too high of a temperature.
Tips for Drying Herbs
- Dry herbs as soon as possible after you harvest so they retain their freshness.
- Dry your herbs in a warm, dry spot with good airflow. Avoid kitchens – there’s too much airborne grease. Spare rooms, and airy closets are good options.
- Drying in a dark place helps retain the flavor, but isn’t necessary for the drying process.
Store your herbs in a glass jar with a proper seal. They should last a good long time – about a year.
What To Do With Your Vegetable Harvest
What you do with your vegetable harvest is limited only by your creativity – and maybe your cookbook selection.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do:
The grill isn’t just for meat! Veggies are finally getting their time in the BBQ spotlight – and for good reason. GrillSpot has a great infographic with lots of good information on how to grill your veggies.
There is no downside to grilling veggies. Your BBQ will add a deep, rich, smoky flavor – and you can keep your kitchen clean and cool in the last warm days of summer.
Learn more about grilling with vegetables.
Who said salads are boring? They’re may be healthy, but they’re also delicious, especially when they’re chock full of your delicious produce.
Try mixing your homegrown peppers, peas, and beans in with your lettuce and spinach. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even make your own salad dressing – it’s is a great way to use your fresh or dried herbs! Try making this easy gremolata dressing.
There’s nothing quite like roasted vegetables. You can roast any vegetable – all you need is salt, pepper, and a bit of oil. Some fresh garlic and herbs never hurt either.
Store-bought produce will never beat homegrown veggies in terms of taste and freshness. All you need to do is give your vegetables a quick wash and voila! You’ve got a quick, healthy snack no one could ever pass up.
When in doubt it, preserve your herbs and eat your fresh veggies raw. But there are tons of other great things you can do with your harvest, like grilling, roasting, or even freezing. You can even save the seeds from your harvested plants – check back tomorrow to learn how.