Spice Up Your Life

A few weeks ago a friend brought a bunch of rosemary from her garden for our ladies to share.  Another friend brought us a basil plant. 

basil-plant

I also have some mint growing in my yard.

mint-plant

With all these spices at hand I had to learn… how to dry them to be used in cooking.  I did a little research and discovered how easy it is to do this.  All it takes is a sunny window, fresh spice leaves, and a paper towel.

The rosemary smelled so good I used it as a centerpiece on my dining room table for about a week and then I decided to dry.  I hung the rosemary in the sunny kitchen window until it was really dry.  This took several days.  Once the rosemary leaves were completely dry I placed them in a small ziplock bag and crushed them using a rolling pin.  Now the rosemary is ready for use in cooking.

The mint leaves are small so I washed them and lay them on a paper towel in the kitchen window.  Again this took several days.

mint

Once the leaves were completely dry I placed them in the ziplock bag and crushed.  The mint is also now ready to be used in cooking.

Since I was given a whole basil plant I have lots of leaves to be dried.  These leaves are also larger than the mint and take a little longer to dry.  But I did them the same way-washed, placed on paper towel in the sunny window…

basil-dry

until completely dry.  I again placed the dried leaves in a ziplock bag and crushed.  The basil is now ready to be used.

One advantage to drying your own spices is the aroma.  My kitchen smelled fantastic as these assorted leaves were drying.

Since I was on a roll I decided to dry some orange peel.  I use orange peel quite often in cooking and having it dried and handy will really come in handy.  The first orange I peeled, dried and tried to crush, grate, food process-nothing worked!  It is almost impossible to grate the peel when it is dried. 

So the next time I grated the orange peel onto the paper towel. Don’t forget to wash the orange before you grate it and do not grate too deeply-you want the orange peel not the white underneath.

orange-peel

Set the gratings in the sunny window and allow to dry-this took almost a week.  When this is dry it is ready to be packed away for use later.

I found these cute spice bottles at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $.99 each.  They come with a sprinkle top that is lined with foil to keep them fresher until you are ready to open and use.

fini

The finished spices all lined up and waiting to be put to good use.  This was a fun and profitable project that I will be repeating often.

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