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Drying Spices

 
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have some Sage, Basil, Thyme, Chives, Comfrey .. am drying in paper lunch bags currently.  thinking of best way to preserve it.  will probably put into little 1 ounce glass bottles with cork tops.  may do some whole and some ground.  Was thinking if I added a little salt and sugar that might help preserve it a little longer.  How do you like to actually store spices and foods you've dried yourself.

I also have questions about the plants themselves.  Here in NH, the basil will not come back, but the rest should winter fine.  Is there a time when I can just take all the growth off the top of the plants and not hurt them as far as coming back up next year goes?  
 
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Hi Mark!
I don't add sugar or salt to my spices, as that limits how I can use them later. If you put salt in several herbs, then want to use all of them in a dish, how much salt do you now have? So I leave mine plain. I cap them tightly, and have no issues with them.

As for when you can strip herbs, I'd say (and I'm NOT up on your climate, so I don't know how the ones you have will behave there) to not fully strip any that will hold the leaves over winter, leave them some leaves to support their growth in spring, since they expect to have leaves. Anything that will drop their leaves, harvest them a week or two before they will start dropping. Some herbs are happier if pruned to the ground, any that are like that, take the whole plant, again, a week or two before the leaves drop. Annuals like basil I leave some for seeding, and take the rest to the ground before the seeds start forming. Seeds use a lot of a plant's energy.

Happy herbing!! I was amused to see this post as I am sitting here eating breakfast, bad stomach day, so just pasta with butter and a lot of dried herbs  :)

:D
 
Mike Branscombe
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I'm in Zone 5 in NH, so - none of the leaves will go through the winter as far as I know, don't think thyme is an evergreen.  Guess I'll just wait to clip them down when I see the leaves starting to go yellow and then keep the good leaves to dry.
 
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Mike Branscombe wrote:I'm in Zone 5 in NH, so - none of the leaves will go through the winter as far as I know, don't think thyme is an evergreen.  Guess I'll just wait to clip them down when I see the leaves starting to go yellow and then keep the good leaves to dry.



Or wait for someone who knows  more about your area than  I do to answer
I gardened 30 years in zone 8B (dry hot desert) and am trying to learn 6A/B now
 
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Thyme is a perennial, so it will come back, and they tend to be fairly hardy - but no, not evergreen, in my experience. They do week as an indoor plant, if you're any good with that (I'm distinctly NOT).

As to drying the herbs, adding sugar &/or sadly won't really extent the life of your dried herbs. What happens to dried herbs that depletes their nutritional value and flavor are time, exposure to air, heat, moisture, and light. So, to prolong their goodness, keep them (after gently drying) in a cool, dark area, preferably in a tightly sealed, dark jar. To help them stay dry, you can put a small amount of plain white rice in the bottom of the jar, if you like.
 
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