|Just picked -Lemon Balm and Hyssop|
Sunday was the perfect day for harvesting hyssop and lemon balm. They are just starting to flower, the time when the leaves are most potent and flavorful. I cut the herbs in the morning on a dry day, shortly after the leaves have dried from the night dew and before the sun gets too hot and robs them of their flavor.
I find a comfortable spot in the shade and "pick over" my harvest. Now is the time to eliminate any leaves that aren't perfect. Most herbs are immune to bug damage and disease but still, I only dry the healthiest looking leaves. This job can be compared to knitting or crocheting, other Zen-like activities. It is repetitive, somewhat mindless and soothing. Add the lovely aromas generated by working with herbs, and it is a delightful, meditative way to pass a morning.
Once I remove any leaves that aren't perfect, I plunge them into a clean sink full of cold water and swish them vigorously to remove any dirt. Some herbalists don't recommend washing and prefer to just brush the herbs off. The nurse in me is compelled to wash! And, as long as I do it quickly, it doesn't seem to affect the flavor.
Next I shake the herbs vigorously or spin in a salad spinner to get rid of the excess water, then I lay them on a clean tea towel under the ceiling fan in my dining room. Other methods include tying several stems in a bunch and hanging the plant up-side down or using a dehydrator. Some herbs, like basil and cilantro are best preserved in the freezer.
So what is Hyssop?
Hyssop is a somewhat strong flavored member of the mint family, used primarily for its medicinal qualities, although it has been used to season food in the past. It is one of the ingredients I use to make my "Cold and Flu Tea." We brew this tea all winter to ward off and treat all manner of viruses that come our way. Hyssop is known to relieve congestion and improve a cough. It is also said to be anti-viral.
Easy to grow even from seed, hyssop becomes an attractive shrub in a season or two. It can be pruned to keep it in bounds and it makes a nice border hedge in the herb garden. The flowers are blue, pink or white and the bees and butterflies love it. One more reason it is welcome in my garden!
|Hyssop and Sage Flowers|
Here's a link to a post about : Lemon Balm