So I don’t know if you noticed it in the overview pictures of my garden updates, but the lovage is growing like crazy. With our current consuming rate, we can’t possibly use enough of it. Although I’ve read somewhere you can cook it and eat it much like spinach, I haven’t tried that yet.
So right now, the lovage just grows, and grows, and grows… At this point, it’s starting to take away light from other plants growing nearby. So, time to harvest some.
As for the chives, it really is the same thing. It has grown so much, it has started flowering. Lucky for me, I knew the flowers are edible and aren’t a bad thing, so I’ve let them grow. There’s developing quite a few of them, yum! The first flowers were close to dying off, so I decided harvest season had arrived : )
Both lovage and chives flowers I don’t use that often, at least not (yet) in such quantities, so I wanted to dehydrate them. That way they’ll be preserved for quite some time, and I can use them whenever I want to.
First of all I needed to actually harvest everything. I snipped off the chives flowers with a couple centimetres stem still attached to it. I only took the ones that looked ready enough. I ended up with a nice bowl of flowers : )
As for the lovage, I picked stems that were the biggest and took away light from other plants, and snipped those off as close to the ground as I could. I accidentally harvested a LOT more than I needed to dehydrate – I’m really bad at guesstimating how much space some things take – but I’m going to experiment with the leftovers. More on that later : )
On a sidenote, our lovage was riddled with ticks, so you might want to check your hands after you harvested it. I had been bitten before I even noticed them.
I also needed to find out if lovage and chives flowers have the same dehydration temperature and time. Especially temperature, since I could always remove trays if one of them would be ready. A quick research showed that chives flowers can be dehydrated at 40 degrees Celsius. I couldn’t find any information about dehydrating lovage though, so I decided to try both at the same temperature. Chives flowers need around 8 hours to dehydrate. As I wasn’t sure about how long the lovage would take to dehydrate, I’d just check in every now and then to check on them.
Dehydrating (and other experiments)
I cleaned the lovage really well under running water. I dried them as well as I could, and picked off the leaves. I tried to place as many leaves on a tray as I could without having leaves overlapping each other, and filled up 7 of my 8 trays.
The remaining tray was meant for the chives flowers. I kept a tray with a grid aside on purpose, so I could stick the stems left on the flowers through them. That way the flowers would remain nice and fluff. I cut off the stems so they didn’t take too much space – at about 1 cm below the flower. I found placing a bowl below the tray was an easy way to be able to place the flowers neatly on it.
Then it was time to put everything in the dehydrator. I placed the chives flowers on top for no particular reason, and the lovage below. Set the timer to 8 hours (and a timer on my phone at 4 hours), set the temperature to 40 degrees Celsius, and hit the start button. Now the waiting game had begun : )
As for the stems that were left over and stripped by leaves, I didn’t just throw them out. I cut them up in small rings, and put them in a container to be frozen. They’ll be a nice addition to a home-made chicken or vegetable soup : ) Hmm… And maybe they’ll be a nice addition to an asparagus soup? I’ve got to try that!
As I mentioned, I had quite some stems left over. I bound them together, and hung them in a windy, but not sunny, place to dry. I want to compare their structure and taste to the lovage dehydrated in the machine later.
While the dehydrator did its best to get rid of all moisture in the herbs, I checked on the lavas after 4 hours of dehydrating. Some leaves were already crispy, but most were still a bit floppy. After that, I roughly checked every hour on them. But it wasn’t until the 8 hours mark – at which the chives flowers were supposed to be ready – that I was satisfied with the lovage. I guess 8 hour’s the charm – everything was nice and crispy : )
Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of cleaning glass jars and keeping them for this purpose. I know they can be recycled, but this way I don’t have to buy new jars (that come in plastic) to store the herbs.
I matched the flowers to a glass container that once housed store-bought olives. It was just the right size! Before adding the flowers, I added a small sachet of silica gel (check really well if it’s not leaking!) to get rid of any moisture that might still be in them. Would be a waste if mold got to them.
Pretty much the same process went into the lovage leaves. I matched them to a jar, and while transferring the leaves into it I made sure the leaves were thoroughly dried. I crumbled them up a bit, partly to check if they were dry, and partly so they wouldn’t take up as much room in the jar. In the end, only a couple leaves weren’t completely dry. Those got a one-way ticket into the composting bin as I wasn’t planning on using them within a couple days. I also added a silica gel sachet to the jar, just in case.
I added labels to the jars so I wouldn’t forget what’s inside – mainly because I’m planning on getting lots of jars with home-grown herbs – but that’s pretty much it : )