Hi! Blondie here with a mix of garden and food talk.
In this post we will discuss how the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen (SFH-TK) is mastering herb skills. So, come join me on the back porch and let’s talk about what’s going on.
Although Mr. Monte would probably disagree, my dear Hubby is greatly underrated when it comes to practical skills and long-range planning. – – Well, come to think of it, sometimes Monte’s low opinion concerning Fuzzy’s skills is spot-on. – – Whatever. This year, Hubby did have some good ideas relating to herbs and spices that have led to improvements for the SFH-TK.
I guess his long-range plan began to come into focus this time last year when he decided to give me a set of herb and spice bottles for Christmas. When I opened the rather large box containing the 48 little bottles, all I managed to say was, “Just what am I supposed to do with these?” He merely answered, “You’ll see.” – – And so I did in early March when Hubby installed two sets of herb and spice storage racks, one set for the kitchen and one for the pantry. (See the item Bringing Order to a Real Mess in the post Spring is Here! (Meteorologically speaking))
The next step in his plan was to improve our ability to grow herbs by preparing an entirely new herb garden in SFH Vegetable Garden #2. (See the item Part I – The Herb Garden Gardens in the post Feast Day Garden Talk)
Throughout the growing season, Hubby could be found gazing into his crystal ball (his computer and the Internet) looking for the best information sources needed to complete his master plan. That’s when he started collecting articles, items, and notes from places like the National Center for Home Food Preservation. From these resources he learned how to dry herbs. A big part of his master plan was to dehydrate some of our new crops of Rosemary, Sage, Oregano, and Tarragon and to become self-sufficient in these frequently used herbs. He thought this would be possible because all four herbs are perennials and we won’t have plant any new ones for some time. His newfound knowledge highlighted distinctions between the various types of herbs that would help him in selecting the best combinations of dehydrating times and temperatures. For example, he learned:
Less Tender Herbs — Include rosemary, sage, thyme, summer savory and parsley – these are easier to dry
Tender-Leaf Herbs — Include basil, oregano, tarragon, lemon balm and the mints – these have a high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly
When the pressure from the main growing season subsided, Hubby had the time to pursue the task of perfecting his SFH-TK herb dehydrating skills. For a period of two weeks, every day was filled with either picking, dehydrating, or storing our herbs. Although he learned that it is better to store some herbs whole, that is not ground, he did experiment with grinding herbs using a make-do mortar and pestle. Here are pictures of the process and the results. Sometime in the future, I’ll let Hubby go into more detail. – – For now, however, let’s just say Hubby actually had a plan that worked.
Don’t Rest on Your Laurels, Hubby
Hubby was a bit overly proud of his new dehydrating skills. Consequently, Mr. Monte and I had to bring him down a peg or two. So, I took the opportunity to tell him that it was time to replace my special flashing light display on the back porch. Reluctantly, he set up the step ladder, climbed to dizzying and dangerous heights (for him) and proceeded to install the new lights. — Fortunately, there were no accidents and surprisingly the lights worked the first night.
First Fire of the Season
Now it’s getting a bit cold out here on the porch. It’s time to go back inside and warm up. I’ve asked Hubby to light a fire in our trusty old wood stove. While he’s doing that I’ll make some hot chocolate for the two of us.
Once again, it was the best harvest ever! – No, we’re not preppers; we’re not homesteaders; and we’re not farmers. We’re just a happily married couple living rural life in a practical way. – It’s all a great blessing.
SFH Gardens – By the Numbers
The extensive and highly productive vegetable gardens here at SFH have been blessed with a most abundant harvest. For now, the following links will catch you up with what has been planted, harvested, and preserved since our last report:
SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: