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Helpful Herbal Hints

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Helpful Herbal Hints

While herbs are best to cook with, they’re not always available. To preserve herbs for year round use, you can easily dry or freeze them.

Drying Herbs- To dry herbs simply tie a small bunch of herbs together at the stem and hang them upside down from a wire or rack in a warm, dry room out of direct sunlight. Herbs should dry in 1-2 weeks. Keep in mind that dried herbs are much stronger that fresh ones. You will need to adjust the amounts when cooking with dried herbs. A good rule of thumb is to use 1/3 to ½ of the amount call for. Dried herbs also lose their flavor after one year. For quicker dried herbs, you can use the oven or microwave. Spread the herbs out on a tray. Then place the tray in an oven set at 100 degrees. Bake about 3 hours. Remember to turn the herbs for even drying. For microwaves, use low power and cook for three minutes. Once the herbs are completely dried, store them in a clean glass jar with a tight lid. Good drying herbs include:

– Bay leaves
– Tarragon
– Thyme
– Rosemary
– Oregano
– Savory

Freezing Herbs- Another method of preserving herbs is freezing. This method has many advantages over drying as it’s easier to do and it doesn’t affect the herb’s natural flavor so you can use the same amount as you would if it was fresh. You can freeze herbs whole, chopped or even in an ice cube, especially if you plan on using the herb in a soup or stew. Before placing your herbs in the freezer, be sure to wash and dry thoroughly. Store in airtight plastic bags or containers. Label the bags or containers with the type of herb and date. Good herbs to freeze include:

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– Dill
– Parsley
– Chives
– Mint

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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