Here are the different methods of curing herbs, drying herbs and infusing herbs so your can enjoy your own homemade herbal infusions:
Herbs used in food can be divided into three groups; those whose foliage furnishes the flavor, those whose seed is used and those few whose roots are prepared. In the kitchen, foliage herbs are used either green, as decoctions or dried and each way has its own advantages and applications.
If green herbs are fresh and correctly harvested, then they are the richest in flavoring substance. When added to sauces, fricassees, stews, etc., they will reveal their freshness by their decidedly fine flavor.
In salads they are superior to both the dried and the decocted herbs, since their fresh colors are pleasing to the eye and their crispness to the palate. In salads dried herbs will give a somewhat inferior flavor to fresh.
However, unless you have an indoor herb container or window herb planter box, it will not always be possible to obtain exactly whatever herb you require for your dishes throughout the year. This is where the use of dried herbs and/or concoctions can come in handy.
Both infusing herbs and drying herbs are similar processes in themselves, but for best results there are a few simple rules that need to be followed when preparing them.
No matter in what condition or for what purpose they are to be used the flavors of foliage herbs are invariably best in the most well-developed leaves and shoots, those which are in full vigor of growth.
With respect to the plant as a whole, these herb flavors are most abundant and pleasant immediately before the plant flowers. And since they are generally high in essential oils, which are quickly dissipated by heat, they are better harvested in the early morning rather than later in the day under the full sun.
So, as a general rule of thumb you will get the best results with foliage herbs if you harvest them right when they seem just about to burst into flower. The best time of day is as soon as the dew has dried and before the day has become very warm. This is especially important for those herbs that are to be used as drying and infusing herbs.
The leaves of parsley, however, may be gathered as soon as they show that deep green color of the mature leaf. And as the leaves are produced continuously for many weeks, the mature ones can be harvested every week or so. This process of regular harvesting encourages the further production of more foliage and slows down the appearance of the flowering stem.
To make good herbal infusions the freshly gathered, clean foliage should be packed into stoppered jars and covered with a high quality vinegar. Then the jars sealed. Within a week or two the fluid of your herbal infusion will be ready for use.
It is a good idea to test your infusions for strength of flavor and the amount to use. Normally only the clear liquid is used, but sometimes the leaves can be very finely minced before being bottled, and in this way both the liquid and leaf are used. Such is the case with mint.
Tarragon, mint and the seed herbs, such as dill, are more often used in ordinary cookery as herbal infusions than in any other way. One objection to herbal decoctions is that the flavor of vinegar is may not always be appropriate in your meal. And this is also the case with alcohol and wine, which are sometimes used instead of vinegar.
I hope you found this article on curing herbs interesting and helpful, and can put this information to good use for herbal infusions and herbal decoctions etc., in your own home.
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