When it comes to herbs and spices, I’ve watched my roommate too many a time bemoan the expensive prices of high-quality basil and dill in the grocery store. It was only after her shaking hands dropped a few of the glass bottles into her basket that we both decided, maybe it was time to do things a little differently.
Eating vegan, to those who aren’t familiar with the diet, is supposedly rife with unflavored rice, grains, and vegetables, maybe with a little salt and pepper. Many people don’t realize that a hearty meal doesn’t require butter, animal fats, or bacon bits in order to be heavenly on the palette, and most of those desired flavors can be imitated through natural seasonings and herbs as it is.
Unfortunately, it’s the price of these special herbs that turns many people away from cooking meals entirely from scratch — but the fact of the matter is, buying the herbs fresh and green in bulk, and then working to grow and store them at home on your own windowsill will save a novice chef hundreds of dollars a year simply by putting in a little extra effort, reaping both financial and health benefits.
- Indoor Gardens
Not all gardens belong in the earth outside, and not all gardens are messy and muddy. Thankfully, with the increasing popularity of eating healthy and raw foods lately, opportunities for creating beautiful, organized, and even stylish indoor gardens is more in reach than ever.
Whether you build yours from a simple box or take a more exotic route by buying herbs as seeds and planting them in your little environment, you’ll not only be growing your own ingredients, you’ll be getting the thrill that comes from nurturing a little green family.
According to HouseMethod.com, some of the best, easiest, and most useful indoor garden foods include:
- Green onions
- Fig trees
Whether you choose to grow herbs or vegetables, or maybe a little succulent wonderland, keeping plants thriving indoors not only cleans the air and offers you a discount on cooking herbs, but indoor plants are also known to boost a person’s mood.
While drying herbs has been around for centuries, it seems to have taken a boost in popularity recently with the rise of the witchy aesthetic. From hanging potted plants to keeping succulents on windowsills and relying more on burning incense and scented candles in order to keep the air smelling sweet, drying one’s own herbs is right up there in creating a cozy, energy-positive atmosphere.
In my own apartment, our solution for drying basil leaves was to gently prick small holes into the area just before their stems and then to thread some twine through the holes to hang against the wall and allow to dehydrate. There are so many other possibilities, however, and not just in the method of getting the job done.
Organizing the hanging herbs from things like bulletin bars, from the rafters, or drying them in the sun in a window, there’s really no “wrong” way to dry herbs (except in the window — while it’s fine to dry herbs in direct sunlight, leaving them there for an extended period of time will have a negative impact on their potency!).
Once they’re completely dry, the herbs can last through the apocalypse — OK, maybe not that long. The time of max potency can range anywhere from 1 to 4 years, depending on how they’re stored, if they’re spices or herbs, and more. For example, did you know herbs in their full form (not chopped up or ground) last the longest?
After your herbs have been successfully dried out (and removed from direct sunlight, if that’s your thing), it’s time to decide how you’re going to store them. While things like basil and bay leaves make sense to leave in full leaf form (and as I mentioned before, whole-form is recommended for a longer shelf life), other herbs and spices just make more sense chopped or ground up and stored in jars.
Grounds herbs and spices like cinnamon, chili peppers, oregano, and more, should be stored away from direct sunlight and in glass containers, or those with screw-on lids. Otherwise, they can lose potency over time as air infiltrates the natural pores after drying.
For a more exhaustive list of herbs and spices and how they should be left to dry or used fresh in recipes, check out this site seemingly from the early days of the internet, though no less useful: FoodAndNutrition.com.
The uses for herbs come in many shapes and forms, ranging anywhere from the standard heightening of flavors in dishes to healing damaged hair, increasing positive vibes in any home, and battling symptoms of the common cold. And, like the Amazon Wishlist of any exercise-hungry human being drooling over the coolest running clothes and gadgets, not everyone can afford the coolest herb brands and gadgets.
And, just like there are cheaper (and DIY) alternatives to that expensive workout gear, there are cheaper (and DIY!) alternatives to growing, keeping, and storing your own herbs, so you never have to spend $10 on 3 ounces of coriander again.
Drop the bottles, walk away from the spice aisle, and instead head over to the garden section to pick up some seed packets, some basil sprouts, whatever you need — and get to drying!
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/basil-herbs-eat-food-spice-plant-1638474/