Last updated: September 06. 2013 7:44PM - 85 Views

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The summer breezes, fresh produce and dinners alfresco will soon be just a memory, but the taste of summer can stay with you well into the fall and winter months by making plans to preserve your herbal harvest. Imagine the fresh taste of basil, parsley and rosemary in the cold winter month of February. Sound good? Mark your calendar for Sept. 24 to attend an herbal program presented by the Delaware County Master Gardeners “Preserving your Herbal Harvest,” and learn of ways to savor the summer.

Herbs have hit the market hard and heavy in the last five years with an increase of the local food movement. They are being rediscovered as people seek a healthier and more natural lifestyle. Herbs are the oldest food product known to man, having been used to ferment, preserve and enhance food for thousands of years. Herbs will add a healthy dose of flavor to your food.

Herbs are easy to grow with few pest problems, making them the perfect addition to everyone’s garden. Your cooking experience will be greatly enhanced with as few as 3 to 5 herbs in your garden. The Herb Society of America recently did a survey of their members for the top 10 herbs. They include; basil, parsley, rosemary, lavender, chives, sage, bay, thyme, dill and oregano.

Basil has been on the top of most herbie’s list of favorites. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without pesto and a classic dish called Capresse Salad, which consists of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, slivers of fresh basil sprinkled on top and drizzled with olive oil. One class at the September 24th program will be ‘Pesto Possibilities’, showing that pesto is not just made with basil anymore. Discover all the fun varieties to make and creative ways to use your homemade pesto.

Parsley is the most used and one of the biggest selling herbs in the country. We have to thank the restaurant industry for that honor. It’s their use of a sprig of parsley on almost every dinner plate that has boosted those numbers. It’s not just there to brighten up your plate; it’s one of the best breath fresheners and palate cleansers around. Parsley can be added to almost any savory dish for that hint of freshness.

Lavender is another one of the top 10 herbs to grow and use. It’s used the most as an addition for sweets, desserts and beverages. Also at the September programs will be ‘All About Lavender’ and how to use it in your cooking repertoire.

Thyme is among the favorites partly due to the numerous varieties that are now available. One of my favorites is lemon thyme, used on chicken, fish or vegetables. Lime thyme has a refreshing bright taste, and the old standby English thyme is used in all sorts of cooking and household products. Thyme is associated with chicken soup due to the chemical found in thyme, known as thymol which contains some of the highest antiseptic qualities. Thyme has been used medicinally for thousands of years. There really is a reason that chicken soup is good for what ails you.

Preserving herbs for the fall and winter in honey, salt, sugar, vinegar, mustards and pestos are just a few ways to keep that summer taste into those long cold months. A portion of the program will show how to harvest and preserve all your herbs into creative lasting gems. September is a perfect time of year to plan your harvesting ideas.

Preserving your Herbal Harvest includes; light breakfast treats, herbal lunch, recipes and handouts. Join us for an herbal day out at the beautiful Deer Haven Preserve at 4183 Liberty Road, Delaware from 10:30 -3:30. Call the OSU Extension office at 740-833-2030 by Sept. 10 for reservations, seating is limited. Cost is $25.00 all inclusive.

Enjoy the rewards of your garden indoors year around.

Susan Liechty is an Delaware County OSU Extension Master Gardener.

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