Rainbow Spring Detox from the Garden
It’s springtime and we have an abundance of herbs and vegetables starting to flower and set seed in our garden. It is important for us to leave some of the flowers for the bees and other pollinators and use the rest to create detoxifying and healing herbal concoctions for the kitchen. Below are five of my favourite herbs right now, how I best dry and store them and some suggested uses.
Fennel is one of my favourite crops to grow during the cooler months. We’ve been harvesting big juicy bulbs of fennel for months and it’s now time to leave what remains in the soil to flower and set seed. Fennel flowers are garden treats. They taste like sweet aniseed and we pick and nibble on them. Any flowers left on the plant will turn into seeds. The seeds also taste like sweet aniseed. They can be picked fresh and used straight away or they be left to mature and dry on the plant. Once dry, I harvest them, separate the seeds from the umbel flower head and leave them on a wooden board in a cool, dark, dry place to make sure all excess moisture is gone. Then I store them in a clean, dry jar ready to use in the kitchen. The seeds can be used whole or ground into a powder using a mortar and pestle. I like to add them to curries, dips, sauces and salads or to make tea.
Turmeric is everywhere right now. It is gold. With multiple health and healing properties I want to utilise as much as I can! Two of my favourite ways to preserve turmeric is to dehydrate it into a powder and mix it with honey. To dehydrate it, thinly slice it, and lay the slices on dehydrator racks. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can thinly slice it and lay the slices out on a wooden board in a cool, dark, dry place to air-dry. Once it’s dry and brittle, grind it into a powder using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or blender. Store the powder in a clean, dry, airtight container or jar. I use the powder as a seasoning, to flavour curries, soups, stir-fries and stews, I sprinkle it on my salads or I use it to make a potent drink, either warm or cold. Another way I use turmeric powder is to mix it with honey. Add the turmeric powder to a clean, sterilised jar, pour honey over the top and mix thoroughly. Add some black pepper. You can start to use it straight away. I like to blitz it up in a blender to make a delicious drink with water and milk, and serve hot or cold.
Ginger is also abundant right now. After harvesting, wash it to remove all soil. Leave it to dry in a warm place to make sure all water and excess moisture is gone. Ginger can be stored whole in a cool, dark, dry place or it can be preserved just like the turmeric as explained above. Ginger powder can be used in so many ways, to flavour sweet and savoury dishes and one of my favourite recipes is to make ginger bread! A warm honey ginger elixir drink is also cleansing for the body.
Rosemary is a hardy, woody herb and the leaves can be harvested then dehydrated, sun dried or placed in a cool, dark, dry place to dry naturally (usually around 1 month). To store dried rosemary, use a dry, clean, airtight container or jar. Use the dried leaves whole or grind into a powder. I love to make herbal rosemary tea or add it to just about everything! One of the most surprisingly delicious combinations I’ve tried is rosemary and chocolate.
The coriander has been growing profusely throughout winter and its now starting to flower and set seed. I will save the seeds from the healthiest and tastiest plants and harvest some for the kitchen. The seeds can be harvested and used green but to store them they need to be left to mature and dry on the plant. Once ready (when they are brown and dry) they can be harvested, separated and left to dry in a cool dark dry place for a few days until excess moisture is gone. The seeds can be eaten as they are, used whole or ground into a powder. Coriander seed is delicious in curries, teas and most savoury meals for extra flavour.
Special thanks to our local farming writer, Lydia @cosmopatch for this article.