Yesterday we started a project I've been wanting to do for some time now: drying fig leaves and herbs for the off season months. Well, after a day filled with cooking, neighbor visiting, and gardening, we just plum ran out of time. But that's ok, because projects can wait, Sunday Funday cannot.
We weren't able to hang the hooks I originally wanted because we actually grabbed the wrong ones at the store, but I figured we could MacGyver our current setup to at least get a jump on the drying process.
After collecting 16 leaves from one of our community fig trees (yes, we actually have two community fig trees, isn't that lovely?), I soaked them in some cold water to help remove some of the sap (that sap is vicious!), rinsed them off, and laid them out overnight on two tea towels to dry a bit.
This morning I hung some gardening twine from the underside of a bookshelf and began to group bundles of fig leaves together by tying them with the same twine. I don't know what the magic number is for perfect drying, so I tried a couple of different combinations. Then I harvested some mint, rosemary and chives from our terrace orchard garden, washed them, dried them, and hung bundles in the same manner.
Looks pretty good if I do say so myself.
Not to mention the house now smells like rosemary, which in my book is always a win-win. It makes me feel like fall is right around the corner, even if it's really about 6 blocks away.
I've read that in order to dry properly the bundles should hang for no shorter than a week, so I'm thinking that somewhere in the next week or two they'll be ready to store in glass jars. We'll see though. I'm hoping to spend the next two months rotating different leaves and herbs to dry. This really makes me feel like a mountain woman, like we're planning for a winter of being cooped up in the house and surrounded by two feet of snow. (I wish. Le sigh.) I'm just so happy to know that we won't be wasting our herbs this year, and that they can go into lots of comfort food this fall and winter, whether surrounded by two feet of snow or not.
Next week I plan to get some fig leaves from the other community fig tree in town, and harvest some basil, sage, and parsley from our collection. Hopefully by then we'll have the proper hooks in place. Long live homesteading projects!
A la prochaine friends...