Summer brings with it many perks from long lazy Sunday walks to chilled out BBQS with extended family, early rises to watch the spectacular sunrise or late-night strolls to take a little time out and reflect on our week. We are so incredibly lucky in the UK to have our four seasons; Spring, summer, autumn and winter, be them sometimes a little tricky and temperamental to decipher.
Seasonal changes are what I long for every few months. I don’t have a favourite season; I try to love and embrace them individually for what they are able to offer us. Growing up on a farm it was full of challenges but throughout the summer, the allotment was always crammed full of goodies, late summer we would be inundated with fresh figs (purple and green) and the hedgerows would begin to show signs of fruiting.
However, my mums herb garden was always my favourite place to go butterfly catching. It would be full of buzzing bees and delicate butterflies while the aroma would draw me instinctively to the different varieties of oregano that dad would grow for mums’ culinary needs. Oregano to me is like honey to a bee. My mum in fact thinks I may have a slight addiction with this herb, I may have truth be told! I use it scattered lightly over tomatoes, with prawns dressed with lots of garlic fresh leaves pulled and dropped into a tomato sauce just before serving and infused in oil, it is just heaven sent. So, we have established I love the stuff both fresh and dried, therefore I like to preserve and dry my own every year.
Dried oregano: The fresh herb must come from my parents’ farm as I batch dry a few varieties, oregano is so aromatic but gentle too depending on the quantities used. Last week my mum Solidea and I went picking the herb and then perched our bottoms on the back doorstep and prepared them for drying. These take a little time to prep but once dried you will reap the benefits for the cooler months to come.
We laid a cotton tablecloth out and placed the oregano down, armed with string and scissors we soon got to work. We made small bouquets of oregano to dry, the more flowers the oregano has, the better, but you must remove some of the leaves from the stems, string them up and then cut the stems down, so you have small little bunches. I then hang the bunches for a couple of months in my pasta room before I mill them and store the leaves and flowers in jars to sprinkle as I wish, remembering I must limit myself as I need my stash to last me a year if possible. That said mum normally passes me a jar or two of hers too as I’m much heavier handed and in need than she is.
Do you dry your own herbs?