It's the time of year when the garden comes out. Yesterday I removed the stakes which held the tomatoes and bell peppers and took many of the plants down and chopped them up for compost. I gathered a basket of green tomatoes (Mom will bread and fry them), a few straggler onions and two cantaloupes (will these things ever ripen?).
Last evening I went back out and picked a nice bunch of fresh parsley. Mom wanted to dry some for winter use. I started these from seed in the spring and, being a new crop, they are still particularly fresh, pungent and green.
What's the hurry? Sunday morning promises our first frost ... and perhaps even a general freeze. The time is now. Parsley will last beyond a freeze, of course, but I don't think its condition will ever be as good as it is today.
Here's the basket of parsley I picked yesterday which we're processing today.
That still in the garden is as luxurious as ever, ready to be picked for a garnish well into winter weather. All this from one packet of seed.
This year we used the oven drying method. You cut the tenderest parsley (getting rid of the stems) and placed the leaves on parchment paper atop a baking sheet (the paper is merely a clean-up tool and not necessary). The oven needs to be set to the lowest temperature possible. Our oven will not heat at a lower number than 170° so that's what we dried the parsley at. Mom left it in for about two hours.
When I took the hot sheet out of the oven, I sat it on the stove to cool. The parsley is dry and flaky as can be.
Here's a close-up of the dried parsley. This is then chopped into small flakes before bottling.
Last year we hung bunches of fresh parsley from the ceiling of our indoor porch. Though the parsley dried, it turned a sickly grey-brown and we threw all of it out. This time, with speedy drying, the beautiful green color remained.
The end result of several hours of work are these two small spice jars. We'll enjoy the parsley flakes on potatoes and in soups this winter and think back to the days of spring when these plants first sprouted. Buying the spice is probably cheaper but not half the fun.