The Best Solutions Are Often the Simplest

Sometimes, when you drastically cut back your herbs in the hopes of keeping them in check, they go into overtime instead. That’s what happened with my sage plant a few weeks after I pruned it back to almost nothing. While I was humming away, baking my corn muffins, the sage was busy doing this:

It's hard to tell from the picture, but it almost reaches my knees.
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it almost reaches my knees.

Clearly, I need to alter my strategy a bit. As much as I like to think I could rise to the challenge, there was just no way I could use all of that sage while it was still fresh.

Instead, I turned to my trusted method: Drying.

Some herbs, like basil, are more delicate and require special care when drying to keep them from browning. Sage, on the other hand, is about as easy as it gets. If you have the time, you can bundle them up and let it hang to dry for about a week. I wanted it a little sooner than that, so I used my oven.

Just wash the leaves off well, then place them in a single layer on a roasting pan, and stick them in the oven. Crack the door just a bit, using a wooden spoon if you need to, set it to the lowest temperature setting possible, and let it go overnight.

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After about 8 hours, they are completely dry and should be store in an air tight container until you need them. It’s up to you whether you want to crumble the leaves before you store them. If you plan to use your herbs for cooking, go ahead and crush them between your fingers before you seal them up. If you want to use the herbs for tea, however, leave them whole.

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Lavender Sage Tea

Dry Ingredients (by weight in ounces):

1 part dried lavender flowers and leaves

2 parts dried sage

Having a small kitchen scale will really come in handy for this recipe, but keep in mind that dried herbs don’t have a lot of weight to them. To fill a pint sized mason jar, I  only used 0.1 oz lavender and 0.2 oz sage.  You can easily keep the ingredients separate until just before you make your tea, but I love the way this looks mixed together in the jar and lined up on my coffee bar.

Use 1/2 tbsp dried herbs to make 12 oz of tea. Pour hot, but not quite boiling, water over the tea and let steep for 2-3 minutes before straining.

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To serve, swirl in 1/2 tsp of honey and add a thin slice of lemon.

DSCN2537This has a lovely earthy and floral taste that does well with a little bit of honey, but if you use too much, it can overpower the tea’s delicate flavor! The same goes for the lemon. I show two in the picture above, but you might be better off with one slice, unless you want a mostly lemon-flavored tea.

Drying out your herbs is a great way to save them for another time when you want to use them, but not necessarily right away. For more tips on drying your herbs, check out this site.

Along the lines of “things I have too much of”, when I was in California a few weekends ago, I went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. What I had forgotten when I decided to pick up a small braid of garlic, was that I would be getting several heads of garlic in my CSA share for the next few weeks as well. Garlic will last for several months on your counter top, but I’m moving across the country in only two weeks and I don’t need to pack 16 heads of the stuff to take with me. If I’m very resourceful I can start using it up, bit by bit, until I’ve maybe cut that number in half. However, the easiest (and perhaps tastiest) way to cut down the numbers is by roasting the head of garlic until it is buttery soft and spreadable.

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Rosemary Scented Roasted Garlic

Traditional roasted garlic requires only a bit of olive oil, but I was craving rosemary the other day and decided to mix things up a bit.

You will need:

Heads of garlic

Olive oil

Fresh rosemary

Aluminum foil

Start by pre-heating the oven to 350.

You’ll need a sharp knife to cut the top of the garlic off before you roast it. After you roast the garlic, the head will be too soft to cut and even if your knife is very sharp, it will be a sticky mess to try to peel apart.

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You only need to cut enough to expose each clove.

To get the garlic ready for roasting, prepare it on a small piece of foil, cut about 6 inches wide. Drizzle about 3/4 tsp of olive oil onto the cut head and position a small sprig of rosemary on top.

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Replace the top of the cut garlic, then wrap the whole thing up in the aluminum foil like a dumpling.

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After the garlic is all wrapped up, put it in the oven and bake it for at least 30-45 minutes.

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The amount of time to roast isn’t exact. I once forgot about these when I found an interesting movie on Netflix and I left the garlic in the oven for over two hours. When I finally remembered them, I expected to find a charred mess. To my surprise, the garlic was just fine. It had caramelized a bit, but it was still soft, spreadable, and quite tasty.

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I usually keep it simple and spread this directly on a piece of crusty bread, but the softened garlic is also great for spreading on roasted pork!

Only two weeks until we head out for Vermont! I can’t wait to get my hands on the local ingredients, especially maple syrup. See you all next week!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Ooh, like both of those ideas. PArticular rosemary scented garlic. YUM!

  2. sophiazerg says:

    Looks lovely! I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. Feel free to accept it here!
    http://silkandspiceblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/that-great-feeling/

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