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Using And Storing Aromatic Herbs

Jul 7, 2008
Herbs typically bring to mind seasonings to make foods taste better or home remedies to heal what ails you. Few people associate herbs with the sensational dried leaves of potpourri or the sweet aromas drifting up their nostrils on a walk through a garden. Oils found in aromatic herbs make them popular in cooking. The same oil that the recipe calls for can fill your house with luscious scents. Even herbs that may never see the kitchen can reward a nearby nose.

Lavender, a Mediterranean native herb, is a beautiful herb with small purple blossoms and has an amazing aroma. It attracts Black Swallowtail butterflies and humans alike. Its fragrance is perfect when used in perfumed sachets.

Sage produces an amazing aroma when the leaves of the plant are rubbed between the thumb and forefinger. The senses will be delighted by its dynamic fragrance. Sage is a member of the mint family and originated in Asia Minor. Fortunately, it can be grown all over the world making it a perfect addition to any herb garden.

Caraway-Scented Thyme can be a fantastic herb to add to your garden. This sweet bush lures bees and butterflies, and also attracts herbalists with its spicy aroma. It is also a member of the mint family, and blossoms lovely pink flowers in early summer.

Sweet Marjoram another one of the aromatic herbs from the mint family has been used for centuries. It is frequently an ingredient in perfumed soaps, but many people enjoy its spicy scent ground up in potpourri. Don't confuse it with Origanum Vulgare, its wild cousin also known as Oregano.

It is easy to keep them preserved. Keep fresh stems in jars of cool water in the fridge, they will last for a week or so. Otherwise, store them in oil. Wash them and let them dry for an hour, then place them in a jar with preserving oil. They will stay fresh that way for two to three months.

If long-term storage is a must, consider freezing your herbs. After cleaning them, seal them into an airtight freezer bag or slice them up and store them in an unused ice cube tray. These herbs can be pulled out and used even more than four months later as long as air cannot reach them. If you need to keep herbs fresh for up to a year, your best bet is to wash and dry them before placing them in a vinegar-filled jar.

Dried herbs are best for potpourri. Hang them in a cool dark place. Remember though that the oils are what produce the scent. If you leave the herbs exposed to air for too long, the oil will evaporate and remove the scent.

Though that is ideal for a potpouri jar or satchet bag, in order to extend the life of the herbs other methods are necessary. One way to accomplish this is to use an airtight bag. These bags prohibit oil from escaping the plants and prolong their life.

Some of my favorite aromatic herbs are sage, marjoram, thyme and mint whose scent remains intact particularly when they are dried. If handled correctly, they will emit a pleasant fragrance for several weeks.
About the Author
To learn more about aromatic herbs as well as get tips on basic herb gardening, please visit http://basicherbgardeningtips.com/
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