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Basil seedlings – courtesy Kate Jerome

Could you cook in a kitchen with herbs like basil and thyme on the windowsill? Talk about a place of pure pleasure to create delectable dishes!

Enjoy Cooking with Fresh and Dried Herbs

Herbs take simple cooking to the level of culinary masterpiece. And you can easily bring herbs into your kitchen to complement any meal. Add freshly snipped herbs at the end of cooking as their flavor is more delicate, lending a fresh, summery essence. Dried herbs give depth and richness to soups, marinades, breading or casseroles. Try making a vinaigrette with dried herbs and one with fresh herbs. You will be amazed at the diverse flavors.

Drying Herbs

To start the drying process, snip abundant herbs in the garden now. Most herbs in full flush have plenty to provide for drying and fresh cooking the rest of the season. Clip herb stems with healthy leaves attached and remove any flowers. Wash well and bundle with a rubber band into a bouquet. Enclose in a paper bag and put somewhere warm with free air movement. They should take about two weeks to dry.

Storing Dried Herbs

Storing dried herbs is easy. Put into glass canning jars and store in darkness to keep them fresh. By storing in glass and leaving the herbs whole until use, you’ll reap the full flavor when you crush them for use. Your cooking will be infinitely richer if you routinely toss your dried herbs every year and replace them with freshly dried herbs. Make it a fall ritual – toss the old herbs and refill your jars with freshly dried herbs. As the holiday season approaches, dole them out into small spice jars and give as gifts to your favorite cooks.

Divide Perennial Herbs

Also, there’s still time to divide the perennial herbs like thyme, oregano and chives, pot them up and bring them indoors to the windowsill. Pot up and bring in a rosemary to grow for the winter. Certainly dried rosemary has its place, but nothing tastes quite like cooking roasted potatoes dressed with fresh herb sprigs like rosemary.

Start Some Herbs from Seed

Starting herbs from seed gives you fresh herbs for snipping and substantial plants to put out in the garden or on the patio next spring to cook with all summer. In particular, basil and dill don’t take well to transplanting so start some now from seed. Furthermore, fresh herbs on a sunny windowsill let us keep the growing spirit alive through the doldrums of winter, not to mention making your late fall and winter meals so much more satisfying.


Kate Jerome

Author: Kate Jerome

I am an avid home gardener and cook, free-lance writer, cooking and gardening blogger and teacher. I love sharing ideas and techniques of simplicity in the garden and kitchen. I have a formal background (M.S. degree) in ornamental trees and shrubs, but my true love is vegetable and herb gardening with a few perennials thrown in for good measure. I have spent my career as the director of an urban farm and horticulture instructor at a technical college, a garden columnist for several newspapers and gardening magazines, a book author, and guest horticulturist on public radio call-in shows.

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