It's a rainy day at the farmette. Can't believe it's already August. The pandemic seems to be easing, a bit. Everyone in my family are double vaccinated, as are my friends. Yay! Too bad there are so many that have yet to get the jab - and some may never do it. Six million Canadians at last count. And hundreds of millions more around the world.
Anyhow. We're chugging along here in lovely Grey County. Yesterday was Food Day in Canada, and Rob and I celebrated with a steak from Premium Beef (five minutes south of us), gorgeously full corn cobs from a stand that's five minutes west of us on Highway 4, and potatoes guddled from our own garden. Forgot to take a picture because I was so hungry. It was delicious!
On Friday, before the rains came, I decided to harvest the oregano that has basically taken over half of one of the raised beds we've put in place over the last couple of years. I took out about a bushel of the stuff. Okay, not a bushel, but quite a bit.
We use a lot of oregano - mostly in Rob's pasta sauces, which he makes from scratch. Beats the heck out of Ragu.
So I decided to experiment with the different ways you can dry the herb.
Using the oven at a low and slow temperature of 170F is a good method - but you can't do very much at a time, and it takes about an hour per batch. I actually 'washed' the leaves and left them a bit damp to reduce the fire hazard. Earlier in the season, my 'research' with microwaving herbs meant a small conflagration in the wee oven. Won't be doing that again.
Once I stripped the leaves off the stems and crumbled them up, I wound up with about two tablespoons of the end product.
I'm also drying them in paper bags. I cut ventilation holes in the bottom and any leaves that drop off the stems will be caught in the bottom of the bags. I only put about four to six stems in each, because oregano is an oily herb, and will get all mucky (technical term) if you do too much at once.
They'll be suspended in the toolshed for a couple of weeks - then I'll check and see if they're crumbly enough to process.
Finally, I went old-fashioned and bundled them up in larger bunches to air dry. Now that I've stored the garlic in the basement, the odour of the tool shed has transitioned from a strong, sour-sweet scent to the lovely, mellow fragrance of oregano.
I improvised by using thumb tacks on the old book shelf we use to store stuff and butcher's string to keep them together. Cool, eh?
While I could buy the stuff for not-very-much money and a heck of a lot less work, where would the fun come from?
As we emerge from the depths of COVID-19, I'm so grateful to be able to stay focused and busy with all the bounty of the farmette. I hope all the friends and family are chugging along as happily as we are. Until next week.