Welcome to Tumbleweed Tidings! It is cooler and a little blustery today, so my husband has been doing a lot of outdoor winterization tasks like putting the vent plugs in under the house and draining down the pool. I just helped him haul the solar cover on the large roller to the back of the pool house, and I may need to get in a little better shape…just saying:) Anyway, with my husband going full throttle outside, I spent part of yesterday making two beautiful fall arrangements with plantings, pumpkins and pinecones. Today, I decided to preserve some rosemary from from my herb garden to enjoy all year round. It was so easy to do, and made the house smell divine.
First, cut the rosemary off the stalk in long pieces. I have two plantings of this herb, so I cut quite a bit, but left some to gather fresh during the winter when it usually holds over. This way, I will have both fresh and dried available to me, and know exactly where and how it was grown.
Second, wash the rosemary under warm running water and give it a good shake. Dry it somewhat on paper towels to get rid of excess moisture. The more moisture you remove now, the quicker the rosemary will dry.
Third, secure the rosemary with kitchen twine, a rubber band, or ribbon. Just a side note on this cute little kitchen twine holder. I bought this years ago, not because I thought I’d use it, but because it was so stinking cute. I mean, I am not Julia Child doing fancy trussing of a beef tenderloin, so I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but I bought it anyway. Do you ever do that? Oh good. Well, was I ever wrong! I use it all the time for tying up a variety of items in the kitchen, as well as around place card holders, and even to hold the labels on my homemade bath salt jars. The nice thing is, the scissors that fit on top are always at the ready, are very sharp, and good quality. And luckily, refills for kitchen twine are readily available, so this dispenser has proven to be a very practical investment for around $10…
Last, hang the herbs upside down from a hook, kitchen knob, clothesline, or hanger. I hung ours on our inspirational magnetic board in the laundry room. My experts, aka the internet, tell me that you should turn or rotate the rosemary every day or two to allow for even drying. It should be completely dry within two weeks, but in our arid climate, it will most likely take less time. Check it every few days, and when the stems and leaves are no longer pliable, it is perfectly dried and ready for long-term storage. Strip the leaves from the stems, but don’t chop them until just ready to use. This will release more flavor and oils for your dish. Store the herbs in an airtight container in your cupboard or pantry away from light.
Dried rosemary is great for use in stews, roasts, most pork dishes, and herbed garlic bread. My favorite way to incorporate dried rosemary into our menu is with roasted rosemary red potatoes. Just toss halved red potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped dried rosemary. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, flipping over halfway through cooking time. These are just plain yummy and go well with so many chicken meat or fish entrees.
If you have an outdoor herb garden, consider saving them from winter temps by drying them for later use. Bolstered by my rosemary experiment, next I’m going to dry the basil and see how that goes. It will be perfect in all of those comforting Italian dishes I plan to make this winter…well, so much for getting in better shape anytime soon.