Carrot and swiss chard harvest, drying the garden herbs, and learning to blanch vegetables.

I haven’t updated in a while, so I’ve got a few things to share.

As my fellow Canadians are fully aware, the weather has grown much colder and that means wrapping things up in the garden. My goals were to harvest the carrots before the cold killed them, preserve the herbs, and do something with the huge amounts of swiss chard.

I didn’t know how much cold the herbs would tolerate, so I harvested those first. I made the usual basil cubes with the basil leaves, since I read somewhere that they retain flavour more easily that way as opposed to drying them.

Then I dried the oregano, thyme, and mint.

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I tied the ends together and put them into those reusable mesh produce bags that are meant to bring to the grocery store. If you don’t have bags, that’s okay, just make sure you tied them together tightly so the pieces don’t fall apart when the stems dry and shrink.

Next, hang them somewhere to dry. I put them near the kitchen window so they’ll get good air circulation.

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After a few days, check them. Herbs will crumble easily when completely dry. Try not to crumble them too much when putting them away in containers. I forget why exactly, except that it has something to do with the oils in the leaves, according to my gardening magazine.

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I used a big bowl since this part is messy! It was worth the effort for sure. I like how cute they look in their jars.

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I did have a bigger jar filled with dried mint leaves, but I forgot to take a photo and then made tea with it all.

Here are the carrots. I’m happy they turned out well this year.

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Here’s a demented one that I think is funny.

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The swiss chard grew pretty big. Here it is next to Eowyn for a size comparison.

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I chopped it up and used most of it in a stirfry. The rest of it I blanched and then dried.

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Speaking of blanching and drying, I had never done either before. The blanching is pretty easy. Submerge the vegetables in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then plunge it into ice cold water. Blanching is supposed to help the vegetables retain their flavour.

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I blanched the swiss chard, some onions and garlic, parsley, and leftover celery. It seemed like a waste to throw out the blanching liquid, so I transferred it into watering containers. There must be some nutrients in there that can go back into my other plants.

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Eowyn had fun “helping” me.

Afterward blanching, you can freeze the veggies and herbs, or dry them. My goal was to make my own vegetable broth powder, so I tried drying them.

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I stretched cheesecloth across some pans, put the blanched veggies on top, then put the pans in the oven at the lowest setting, rotating the pans back to front and top to bottom every 30 minutes. It took several hours, and even then, they still weren’t done. I ended up leaving them outside in the sun for several days.

I still need to grind them up into a powder and test them out. I’m sure they turned out okay, but the entire process took way too much time. For anyone thinking of drying stuff in the oven, I don’t recommend it. I will never do that again.

Anyway, there’s not much left to do except check the garden plot to see if the mint is still growing. It probably is. I mean, my tomato plant just flowered again on the balcony even though it is now November. Can you believe that? It turns out parsley is cold-hardy too. It’s still growing even though I left it for dead.

What do you do with your final harvest?

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