Mid-summer is a beautiful time of year in the garden – most plants are producing flowers and fruit adding to the visual texture of a working productive garden.
Harvesting and drying flower heads (or herbs) is a satisfying project
and the perfect way to extend your harvest. Plus, taking flower heads from plants will prevent prolific re-seeding, which is often the goal. If you’ve ever let your bronze fennel go to seed before removing the yellow fennel blossoms, you know what I’m talking about. (Note to self: dig out bronze fennel this summer.)
In all of my gardens, I plant flowers in order to attract pollinators and add to the list of plants. Many of these blossoms may be harvested and stored for winter indulgence. Lavender, chamomile, thyme flowers, chives and more may all be harvested and dried for future use. To dry out flower heads, choose a warm, dry place. Molds, bacteria, and yeast all thrive in moisture and can ruin herb-saving projects, so keep drying herbs free from excess moisture. Run you hand along the length of the plants stem, and pop off the flower head, leaving the stem behind. To dry, I lay my flower heads out on a fine mesh drying rack that my friend Patric made for me. You can also lay them out on a clean sheet pan, just make sure to turn them often, so air circulates around the buds and they dry completely.
Use dried chamomile in granola, dessert crisps & even cocktails. All recipes are linked here!
In honor of the article published this weekend in the awesome Wall Street Journal, where I compare chefs abuse of bacon to showing off cleavage, I tap out this little excerpt from my first book, Urban Pantry from the “Stocking the Pantry” Section.
BACON. I keep a pound of slab bacon in my freezer and cut off little bits at a time for cooking. It’s great in a pot of beans or lentils.
Bacon! An absolute must in the pantry!
Special thanks to writer Charlotte Druckman for coming to my home, sitting at my table and talking up a storm. And, of course, uber-photographer Della Chen. Check out her projects via Eater.
This morning I am a guest on Terri Trespicio’s show on Martha Stewart Radio – Whole Living. I love coming on the show. Terri is a firecracker and I always have fun. Today we are talking about homemade holiday food gifts and cordials are one of my absolute favorites to make and give.
Cordials are essentially sweetened syrups infused with herbs, spice or plants. They are simple to make and offer a wide range of flavors and essences to anyone willing to experiment. Cordials offer a perfect solution for a non-alcoholic ‘cocktail’ that is nothing short of grown up. For this syrup, you can use either fresh or dried chamomile flower heads. Chamomile is a dainty little white flower that has a tendency to prosper and spread amongst garden beds, cracks in the sidewalk and anywhere else it can take hold. Known for its medicinal properties (and ability to soothe), the sweet flavor from the flower heads also makes for a gentle summer drink. Add some syrup to some fizzy water and serve over crushed ice. If you want to go for gold, add a splash of cognac – its gentle flavor won’t overpower the floral note. This syrup is also delicious brushed onto a simple yellow or buttermilk cake.
+ I published a recipe in July 2010′s Edible Seattle.
The Washington Post wrote a little article recently on chamomile & included a recipe from Urban Pantry. Chamomile! It’s the ‘it’ spice this year – u heard it here 1st. A reseeding annual that’s great in shallow soil.