Today I think we'll spice things up a bit! I'd like to share some of the fun I've had with herbs here on the farm. When I began my internship I was given the opportunity to work on a specific project. Since there are many herbs planted at Howdy Farm, the idea of selling herbs along with the produce sold was considered. There was no way I wanted to pass up the chance to learn more about growing, harvesting, drying, and packaging herbs to be sold. As my time as an intern continues, my specific internship project involves some flavorful plants! Because we're talking herbs, I would like to share a bit about the process we go through in order to get this:
Compared to many areas of Texas, College Station has a typically warm, humid climate. Although it is not extremely humid, the level of humidity can affect herb drying. One common method used to dry herbs is the hang-dry method. That probably isn't the technical name for the method but it works for me (and hopefully you as well!). The hang-dry method involves harvesting the herbs, cleaning them, and then hanging them from a ceiling to dry. Herbs need a dark, warm environment free of humidity to dry correctly. Unfortunately College Station does not have the best environment for this method. I did experiment with it though and it took about 2 weeks while the weather was still warm to dry rosemary! This method definitely wasn't time-efficient. Thus, I researched other methods of drying herbs and determined that using a dehydrator would be best to use for drying. I really should have listening to the farm manager who suggested this in the first place! Researching dehydrators was one of the first things I did to begin my project with the herbs (after I had all of that fun 'hang drying').
After some extensive research on dehydrators, I sent the information I gathered along with some suggestions on dehydrators to the farm manager, who made an executive decision in selecting the model. He then ordered the machine and we waited what seemed an agonizing amount of time for it to arrive at the farm. Now that the dehydrator is here, I've been putting it to use! We use the lowest setting on the dehydrator to dry herbs - this is done in order to preserve flavor while keeping the shape and texture of the herbs intact. The amount of time it takes to dry herbs depends on the specific type of herb, as well as the amount of humidity in the air. Some herbs can take a few hours to dry, and some take around 24 hours. Although I quickly learned that with the humidity in College Station, what should take 1 hour to dry takes 2, this many of the times must be doubled.
Here are some pictures of some of the herbs we've been drying with our new dehydrator!
That's all for now folks! In my next blog I'll let everyone know a bit more about all of the different herbs we have growing around the farm. Until then, keep calm and chive on!