It is not exactly rocket science to grow your own herbs, but to grow them from scratch, preserve them properly and use them for your family’s benefit is more complex than it might seem at first glance. There are very good guides out there that help you with all of these, such as Growing 101 Herbs that Heal: Gardening Techniques, Recipes, and Remedies. And here is a little article that helps you with the seasonal tasks at hand.
Via: The Newark Advocate
Herbs can be harvested anytime they have sufficient growth throughout the growing season. Never cut more than a third of the plant, giving it a little time to recuperate between cuttings.
Now that the air is cooling and winter looms ahead, it is a good time — before the first frost — to gather in the herbal harvest for use later in cooking and crafting.
Start your harvest on a dry, clear day in the morning after the dew has dried on the plants, before the heat of the day can wilt them. Cut the herbs, and clear the last 2 inches of the stem. Bundle them in small bunches, wrap a rubber band tightly around the bare stem end and hang upside down in a dry, dark, cool place. A portable wooden clothes dryer is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to set up for this purpose.
Be sure to label each bundle with name and date; this will avoid confusion later, when all the dried herbs look alike. Use string tags from the office supply store or labels made out of craft foam sheets, cut into strips. Attach to the rubber band holding the bunch together. When the herbs are dry, put them as whole as possible into airtight food storage bags. Store in a dry, cool, dark place.
Some herbs — such as basil, parsley, chives, dill and fennel — retain their flavor much better if frozen, rather than dried. Strip the leaves from the herbs, lay on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and freeze until brittle. When ready, pour into freezer bags, label and date.
Another freezer method is to put 2 cups of fresh herbs, free of moisture, into a food processor with 1⁄2 cup of high-quality oil (canola or olive) or water and blend into a thick paste. Freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, pop the cubes out, package in freezer bags, and label. These can be popped into stews and soups or added thawed to recipes.
Enjoy the essences of your herb garden in the midst of winter!