Drying herbs takes center stage at garden club meeting

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An array of methods for drying herbs was the subject of a recent SMGC meeting. (SMGC photo/courtesy)

SPRINGVALE - Southern Maine Garden Club met recently at the Springvale Library for a lesson in drying of herbs to be used in recipes and also for medicinal purposes. The presenter was Pam Carr from Trailside Farm, Dayton.

Carr brought a number of jars of her dried herbs and infused oils to pass among the members to carefully open and sniff the aromas. Carr explained the shelf life of leaves and flowers is up to a year; but roots, seeds and bark can be preserved for two to three years.

She also brought along various drying methods, and demonstrated each: hanging - tie the stems with a length of twine and hang in a warm, shaded and well-ventilated area. She brought along a dehydrator and told attendees that you can mix the herbs in the dehydrator but it is important to avoid overheating which can cause loss of potency. The last method is drying herbs on a screen - you lay them on the screen and separate the herbs from one another. The screen(s) can be placed in an attic and should be dried in a couple of weeks. Attendees also mentioned their success with drying some herbs in their microwave.

Once herbs are dried - they can be used for teas, making tinctures and infused oils. For medicinal purposes they can be made into poultices or fomentations to ease pain. Pam also recommended a few books to help the novice: "The Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook - A Home Manual" by James Green; "The Herb Book" by John Lust; and "Making Plant Medicine" by Richo Cech.

SMGC meets at the Springvale Library on the third Wednesday of every month beginning at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend our meetings to see if you would like to join us. The July meeting will be on July 19 at the Springvale Library at 6:30; and this will be the club's Annual Meeting. FMI please contact in ME - Paula Frodyma at 207-475-8142.

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