Every year in May, Candy and Dave come from Boston to help plant the herb garden. Throughout the summer, Ted delivers herbs to them in the city on Monday mornings. We call it our "herb CSA".
And at this time of year, they come back to the herb garden to help put up the harvest. That means making pesto for the freezer, chutney for Thanksgiving with the last of the season's pears, and -- new this year -- a mint-jalapeño infusion, inspired by this post on Julia's wonderful food blog.
We also set some herbs into the drying screen. It's nothing more than a large window frame (recycled, of course), with two pieces of screening. One piece of screen is stapled to the frame. The other, stapled at the top, allows us to sandwich the herbs in between the layers.
After the herbs are spread out on the fixed screen, the other layer rolls down and gets tacked to the frame with push pins.
As the frame stands on the porch for three weeks, air circulates around the herbs and dries them completely. Then they're packed into glass jars for use throughout the winter.
Dave is a primo chutney maker, and the last of the season's pears from our trees went into this year's batch along with a stray apple and a couple of plums, plus lots of ginger and hot red pepper. (I'll post the recipe on The Perfect Pantry next weekend.)
Here's our mint-jalapeño syrup, following the recipe for jelly or mojito base on Grow.Cook.Eat.
The syrup infuses for 24 hours and the peppers are removed. Then, you can freeze it, either with the mint or by straining the mint to yield a clear, mint flavored sugar syrup. Freeze it in ice cube trays, and add it to cocktails, jams, or dessert sauces.
We still have time to get the flat-leaf parsley, lemongrass and horseradish root out of the garden, and the rosemary will last a while longer, too. Stay tuned for more harvesting tips from my garden.
Remember: you can make all of these wonderful dishes and preserve the herbs you buy at local farm stands, farmers markets, or even at your grocery store. Just use the freshest herbs you can find, and you can enjoy your "harvest" all winter.