Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Time for drying herbs

 Summer Savory, Satureja hortensis
 Chillies of all sizes
Today there was a chill westerly wind blowing, a perfect day for gathering the last of the summer annual herbs to dry for use over winter. Herbs such as summer savory and oregano improve in flavour when the flowering stems are dried instead of using them fresh. I particularly like savory as it is quite strong and reminiscent of both thyme and oregano. It is a great addition to a winter bean cassoulet recipe. (Duck fat lurking at the back of the freezer in readiness.) As the flower stems are fine and soft it dries well without the 'twig' element one gets from dried thyme which you have to fish out of the cooking pot. The dried leaves are also easy to crumble and becoming almost like a powder. I was introduced to its use by some Italian gardening mates who say it is the secret ingredient to a good homemade Pizza. I don't hang herbs up to dry as is usually recommended . The stems dry quite well in a basket or even stuffed upright into a vase in the kitchen ,without the water in the vase of course.
As for chillies, many of them start to dry on the bush but I like to pick a mixture and place them in open trays to dry. The tiny ones can be kept whole for a fiery addition to just about anything or thrown into the food processor to use as 'flakes'.

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