It’s that time of the summer! I try to cull and dry herbs a few times during the summer, for several reasons. One, I don’t want to lose all of the herbs if there is a problem and the plant dies, and two, if I thin out the plants a few times, they tend to grow better. This is the first time I’ve grown chives. I usually plan out my garden pretty well for the year, but I love to try a few new plants or ideas every year. Chives was a plant I purchased from Native Roots Garden Center this year. I decided to plant it in a pot, and I’m hoping I get many years of use out of it. Or just a summer of good chivage (yes, I made up a word in my excitement). The plant has been living with my lettuces on the deck this year, as it has similar light and heat requirements. Still, it’s starting to send up flowers. In my experience, a flowering plant changes the flavor of its leaves, so I figure it’s time to thin a bit. I’ve been using fresh chives in scrambled eggs and baked potatoes, but I want to dry and bag some for the winter months.
I started by trimming about 80% of the plants leaves about 2-3 inches from the base of the plant. That should let the chives keep growing healthy for another few months. I did something I felt silly about, but I couldn’t help it- I washed the leaves quickly before chopping them. For the dehydrator. Yes, it makes little sense to me too, but I couldn’t help myself.
I spread the chopped pieces on the extra plastic sheets that fit on my dehydrators trays. I tried to spread them apart enough that I could get some air circulating around each piece. I ran it on a low temperature of 95 degrees, because anything higher will turn the leaves brown and burn off the aromatic chemicals that make the chives taste so well. About 3-5 hours drying in our dry air was enough to make the chives dehydrate enough for storage! Once they get fragile, they can be removed and stored. I finished with what I do for all dried herbs- a freezer storage quart-sized Baggie, with the air gently rolled out of it, and an oxygen absorber added to help preserve the herbs. I got the oxygen absorbers from Amazon, here. I keep them in a dark cabinet with my other spices, and I’ve been happy with herbs stored this way that are over a year old.
I can’t wait for a cold day, to pull out my chives and add them to a potato dish, or a soup… Yum!