How To Harvest & Preserve Fall Herbs

Is it truly fall in Texas yet? I don't think our state knows yet. Friday it was 95 degrees outside and yesterday it was 60 degrees. This really has me and my herbs worried because I don't want them to die before I harvest all their goodness!

I decided I wasn't going to take any chances. I put on my winter jacket and work boots for the first time this year and went out into the garden to harvest. This spring I planted Italian oregano, mint, rosemary, basil, and parsley for the first time, and they've survived and grown so much :) In fact, they are doing so well I had to give bundles to neighbors.

You want to make sure to cut the stems as close to the main stem or the bottom of the plant as possible to stimulate new growth. After trimming and clipping this is what I got. Lots and lots of freshly cut stems to prepare to wash and dry. I wanted to stock up specifically on dried rosemary, Italian oregano, and mint to use as seasonings and mint for some tea packets, but there are many other ways to preserve herbs.

To keep the herb's oils separate, I prefer to wash each kind of herb one at a time. Remove all the leaves from the stems and put them into a strainer to wash thoroughly. You will experience an herbal aromatherapy session while doing this, so be sure to enjoy it ;) Your hands will also smell A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Along the way you might find white sacks under the leaves. These could be spider sacks or moth cocoons. Neither of which you want to find after washing, so make sure to look under each leaf very carefully.

After you've removed all the leaves from stems and washed them once or twice, you should have something like this...

I laid all my herbs out on paper towels to dry for at least 4 weeks until they got crunchy. Now, I've tried washing herbs still on their stems, then hanging in paper bags until they dried, but it was too messy for me. If you don't have a lot of counter space I would recommend the paper bag method though.

After 4 weeks (depending on how much air flow they get) your herbs should look darker and have dried up all the way and look something like this...

I love reusing glass jars, so instead of storing the herbs in plastic containers I used mason jars and a spaghetti sauce jar. I think this will be enough to get us through the rest of fall and winter :)

Here's a bonus for you though. If you think you might lose a plant or two during the winter, take a clipping of rosemary, Italian oregano, or mint, and place it in water - it will grow roots! It takes several months to get roots to start sprouting, but you got all fall and winter to prepare for your next plant. Propagation is pretty neat huu?

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