Perennial Herbs and What To Do With Them
What is a perennial herb?
“Herb” describes plants where the leaves, seeds and flowers are grown for flavoring, food and medicine. Perennial herbs are herbs that are generally planted once and they grow season after season for a few years. This includes: rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and mint. As they mature they form woody stems and often the leaves are removed from the stem and used in the kitchen.
Drying Perennial Herbs for Storage
Your perennial herbs can be dried for spice blends and tea throughout the year.
Prior to or just as flowering occurs, harvest your herbs by cutting stems down to 3-4 inches of growth.
Make bundles of your herbs 1-2 inches in diameter at the base.
Tie the end of your herbs with twine
Hang in a cool dry place with plenty of airflow until dry.
Once your herbs are dry they can be removed from their stems and stored in airtight containers for up to one year.
Pruning Perennial Herbs
Woody and perennial herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and mint all benefit from heavy pruning 1-2 times per year.
When is a good time to do this? After your herb flowers and the flowers dry, you should prune your herb. By letting your herbs flower you are inviting beneficial pollinators to your garden.
To prune your herbs, trim away no more than one third of the plant. This will refresh your plant stimulating it to fill in and bush out in the season to come.
Do not prune your herbs too close to winter. Tender new growth promoted by pruning can be damaged during frosts.
Quick Herb Recipes
Herb Infused Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ - 1 cup fresh herbs, rinsed
Boil sugar and water until sugar is fully melted. Add fresh herbs. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Stir herbs occasionally. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
Elevate cocktails, add to sparkling water for an herbal soda, or even incorporate some into your favorite dressing.
2 cups kosher salt
10 sprigs of dried herb of choice
Remove thick stems from dried herbs, then run a knife through sprigs to break up into smaller pieces. Place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add salt and pulse again to blend. Transfer to an airtight container (no need to sift) and cover.
Use as a a garnish, or rim your favorite adult beverage with this!
Herbal Tea (Tisane)
2 cups of water
4-5 sprigs of fresh herb of choice, rinsed
(we like to use peppermint, lemon verbena, and thyme)
Bring water to a boil. Put herbs in a jar and cover with boiling water. Let steep 5-10 minutes. Strain if desired, but not necessary. Enjoy hot or allow to cool down and drink it iced!
Herbal tisanes are not only refreshing but also have many health benefitting properties.