I left our lemon balm and oregano hanging to dry for several weeks. To be honest I kind of forgot about them. I saw them there, hanging near the chimney to dry, but never quite got around to getting them stored. Until today, when I decided to bring a buffet that had been in the basement upstairs to the living room. I wanted to put it in front of the chimney, which meant I needed to move my hanging herb bundles.
It was just the motivation I needed to get those leaves off the stems and into jars.
I had a little help from the Littles. They loved stripping the leaves from the stems, sniffing the air and their hands to enjoy the refreshing scent of lemon balm. It was quick work, well, as quick as work can be when you have six extra hands “helping”. But it was fun. As Emma and Sophie helped me strip the leaves, Silas helped put them in the jars, and then they took turns stuffing it down. A hint here, grab a stem and run your hands from the base of the step to the top. This removes most of, but not always all of, the leaf, but leaves the petiole behind (the petiole is the part that attaches the leaf to the stem). If you work the other way, you’ll also strip the petiole, which makes your herbs look and taste rather “sticky”.
And so, we have almost two full quart size jars of lemon balm leaves for tea, and a small pint size jar of oregano for cooking. The oregano isn’t quite as aromatic as I had hoped. I think I may have waited too long to harvest it, but it still smells quite delicious.
Beyond making me feel rather frugal, this gathering and saving of what we can is such a simple way of staying a little bit connected to this land of ours. We certainly don’t rely on our garden and gathering for even a majority of the food we eat, but every small amount is a reminder of how blessed we are to be here, and that there are treasures to be found even in our own front yard. For this, we are grateful.