The weeks surrounding midsummer are the best time to harvest and dry herbs to use in autumn and winter cooking.
The lush growth that has built up during spring will be at its peak, and this simple method means that you will be able to eat these precious aromatics in sauces, curries and stews as winter takes hold.
Cut a few extra stems and you can make a beautiful dible herbal posy to give to a friend.
1. Select your herbs
Gather your herbs ©Emma Mitchell
Choose the herbs you would like to harvest – oregano, mint, lavender, thyme and rosemary work especially well. Cut and gather some of the stems with the most luxuriant growth from each of your selected plants.
2. Bunching together
Bunch you herbs together ©Emma Mitchell
Bring your gathered plants indoors and, using twine/raffia, tie each herb species into a bunch at the base of the stems. Use 4-7 sprigs in each bunch, keeping back 2 or 3 stems from each herb for the posy.
3. Label your specimens
Hang your herbs ©Getty
Write the names of the herbs on a luggage label or similar, and hang the bunches somewhere dry and warm. I often hang mine above the oven. Depending on the warmth, these will take a few days or weeks to dry out, after which they will be ready to store for cooking.
Create a posy ©Getty
Bunch the remaining herbs together, one species at a time, to create a posy. Include edible flowers such as fennel, dill, nasturtiums, borage, chives and thyme. Tie the posy, add a label and give it to a friend to put in a vase, or to use in cooking, salads or botanical cocktails.
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Main image ©Emma Mitchell