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Old 05-24-2007, 06:47 PM   #1
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ISO help with taking care of fresh herbs

ok, I use mostly dry spices. I will probably continue to do so. However, sometimes I do buy fresh spices. I don't know how to take care of them. You get so much in a package. I only end up using what i need and than I never know when I'm going to use it again. eventually it goes bad in the refrigerator.

How do you take care of these things you call "fresh spices"

Example: My food shopping trip tomorrow - I might be getting some sage, thyme and fresh basil.

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Old 05-24-2007, 06:54 PM   #2
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Okay, legend, one thing you might want to do is to create your own herb garden. Don't worry. You don't have to get elaborate.

A clay strawberry pot, available at most garden centers, will serve your needs quite well. You can fill each little "balcony" with a different herb and have fresh herbs for a long, long while.

I have a traditional herb garden and my sage and chives have been my friends for at least 5 years because they return every year.

I don't know what you pay for a little packet of fresh herbs, but here it ranges anywhere from $1.99 to $3.99 depending on the herb. That's a lot of money to spend for a couple of uses.

Right now I have chives, basil, rosemary, Italian parsley, thyme, peppermint, and sage growing in my garden.

That's the long answer because I don't buy fresh herbs in the market. I just walk outside and clip my own.
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Old 05-25-2007, 04:23 AM   #3
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hrmmm, i never heard of that, but i like the idea of an herb garden :) can you do that indoors? or does it have to be outdoors? so you just get those pots, some soil and plant em?
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Old 05-25-2007, 05:09 AM   #4
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Actually, what you've listed are herbs, not spices (like nutmeg, clove, paprika, etc..)

When I have extra herbs, I'll wrap them in a damp paper towel, wrap that in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it.

You could also lay them out to dry on the counter, chop them, and freeze them in smalll plastic bags.
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Old 05-25-2007, 05:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeraBlue
Actually, what you've listed are herbs, not spices (like nutmeg, clove, paprika, etc..)

When I have extra herbs, I'll wrap them in a damp paper towel, wrap that in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it.

You could also lay them out to dry on the counter, chop them, and freeze them in smalll plastic bags.
If you lay them out to dry - doesn't that turn them into DRY herbs instead of fresh herbs?

If you wrap them in a damp paper towel and wrap it - how long about would you think they might last? IN the refrigerator that is.

Having an herb garden sounds interesting. I'd like to learn more about it. Maybe I'll stop in the garden center sometime soon.
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Old 05-25-2007, 09:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legend_018
If you lay them out to dry - doesn't that turn them into DRY herbs instead of fresh herbs?

If you wrap them in a damp paper towel and wrap it - how long about would you think they might last? IN the refrigerator that is.

Having an herb garden sounds interesting. I'd like to learn more about it. Maybe I'll stop in the garden center sometime soon.
Sure, they become dried herbs, but this way, you know when they were dried and you know how old they are, unlike packaged dried herbs. Also, the flavour will more closely mimmick fresh herbs. You could freeze them directly from the fresh stage, but in my opinion, all you get is watery leaves that have no texture at all.

You can get an extra week out of the damp rag method.

An indoor herb garden is a great idea, but you can only harvest as much as your pots will produce. Once you harvest, you have to wait for more growth before you can harvest again.
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Old 05-25-2007, 09:34 AM   #7
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You live in NH and I live in Boston. I grow lots of herbs in my garden every year. You can buy them at garden stores or Home Depot as little plants in pots and then transfer them to the ground or a larger pot on a deck or something. Most are very easy to grow. Basil, rosemary, thyme are nearly impossible to kill if you water them occassionally.

Then you just pick what you need with no storage.

This weekend would be an ideal time to buy and plant them.
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Old 05-25-2007, 10:15 AM   #8
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I also have an herb garden where I keep oregano, sage, chives, spearmint. I don't use sage so much for cooking, instead I dry it and make herbal tea in the winter.
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Old 05-25-2007, 10:47 AM   #9
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Herbs indoors

Quote:
Originally Posted by srm
hrmmm, i never heard of that, but i like the idea of an herb garden :) can you do that indoors? or does it have to be outdoors? so you just get those pots, some soil and plant em?
Most commonly used herbs originated in the Mediterranean, so they needs lots of full sun - they generally don't do very well inside, unless you can give them lots of sun.

My herb garden is about 15 years old now (this is a picture from last year):



I have Italian, Mexican, and purple ruffled basil; flat-leaf parsley; French and lemon thyme; sage; tarragon; lemon verbena; Greek and Mexican oregano; and rosemary. We're also growing fennel and garlic in the herb garden, and I have spearmint in a clay strawberry pot; mint is invasive, at least where I live, so it needs to be contained

Also, to preserve fresh herbs, another option is to whir them in a blender with some water, then freeze them in ice cube trays. With basil or oregano, for example, you can then throw a cube or two into some sauce to get that fresh herb flavor.
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Old 05-27-2007, 02:51 PM   #10
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pictures of filled strawberry pot - does it look ok?

ok, I've never done this before. The garden center gave me a run down. I posted some pictures of what I made. Does anything look abnormal? Does it look normal? There is oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and parsley that I planted into the pot. I keep in thinking I should squish more dirt in there?
Are they suppose to hang down like that? It's the best I could do.

The total cost for the pot, herbs and dirt was $45.00. I didn't really need a lot of dirt since each plant had it's own pretty much.

One of the plants was big and I couldn't fit it into the hole. Some of the roots "there was LOTS of them" came off in the process. I hope I didn't kill it already. ; )

PS. Currently I have NO yard. Won't be landscaped or done for quite awhile.
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Old 05-27-2007, 03:28 PM   #11
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Beautiful, legend. I think it could use a little more soil. Add as much extra in as you can. You might have to resort to using a large spoon to get it into the "balconies," but it can be done.

Make sure you keep them watered and you feed them some Miracle Grow once a week. To make sure the herbs "bush" out, don't forget to pinch them back.
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Old 05-27-2007, 07:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legend_018
ok, I've never done this before. The garden center gave me a run down. I posted some pictures of what I made. Does anything look abnormal? Does it look normal? There is oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, and parsley that I planted into the pot. I keep in thinking I should squish more dirt in there?

Are they suppose to hang down like that? It's the best I could do.
Looks good I would put some more soil in the top - the crown, where the root meets the stem, of the plants should be almost even with the top of the opening.

They will pop up as they become accustomed to their new home.

When you see flower buds, pinch them off; otherwise, the plants will put their energy into making flowers rather than the leaves you want. And when you harvest, never take more than one third of the leaves.
Good luck with your new garden
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:27 AM   #13
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looks nice, legend.... just not sure how long it will last you because all those herbs needs more space for the roots. especially oregano it can grow to a pretty big sized bush. good luck anyway!
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:38 AM   #14
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I thougth that it was a doable solution? The lady at the garden center did say in the ground was bettter. Hmmmm. She also said the basil and some might die when I bring it in for the winter. But she said it was doable and people do it this way.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:47 AM   #15
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It can be done, legend. I've done it. And, yes, some of the plants don't fare as well as others when brought inside for the winter.

When you bring them inside, you should find a nice sunny place to put the pot and make sure you keep the soil moist. The climate in our homes is usually somewhat less humid than outside, so you have to watch the moisture level of the soil. You might also mist the leaves from time to time to make sure they're hydrated, too.

One thing's sure, if you don't try it, nothing is going to happen.
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:45 PM   #16
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I'm a big-time herb person (In fact, I had my own herbal landscaping business back in NY).

While your pots as you have them should do fine, here are a couple of tips.

Woody-stemmed herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary like dryer conditions than fleshy-stemmed herbs like basil, parsley, & chives, so it's best to plant these different groups together so you can water accordingly.

Also, except for miniature varieties (which I don't think you have there), basil can easily reach 3' high, so is best off in it's own big clay pot. But if you keep yours pinched back with use, yours should be okay. You could, if you wanted to, take out one or two of the basil plants & give them their own large pot. Then you'd definitely have enough basil for a summer's worth of cooking & pesto. Yum!!
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:03 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BreezyCooking
But if you keep yours pinched back with use, yours should be okay.
Does pinched back mean cut them every once in awhile? LIke cut them taking the basil off?
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:19 PM   #18
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Legend, what pinching back means is, is you cut or pinch the top-most growing part of a plant or its shoots. Basil, for example, will grow tall and leggy and even bloom if it isn't pinched back. The object is to encourage side growth and fullness by limiting the height.

Here's a link that might help. Also click on the "herbs" link in the article for information on a wide variety of herbs. I think you'll find it interesting.
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:22 PM   #19
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Exactly. Pinch or snip/cut the tops of the plants for cooking use. More leafy branches will sprout, & it will help to keep the plant in bounds.
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:13 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic
Most commonly used herbs originated in the Mediterranean, so they needs lots of full sun - they generally don't do very well inside, unless you can give them lots of sun.

My herb garden is about 15 years old now (this is a picture from last year):



I have Italian, Mexican, and purple ruffled basil; flat-leaf parsley; French and lemon thyme; sage; tarragon; lemon verbena; Greek and Mexican oregano; and rosemary. We're also growing fennel and garlic in the herb garden, and I have spearmint in a clay strawberry pot; mint is invasive, at least where I live, so it needs to be contained

Also, to preserve fresh herbs, another option is to whir them in a blender with some water, then freeze them in ice cube trays. With basil or oregano, for example, you can then throw a cube or two into some sauce to get that fresh herb flavor.
This is beautiful! I would love to have this! Here is a dumb question, are these herbs perenials? Can I plant them and have them come back year after year? Thanks for sharing this picture! What a great job!
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