Dried green mix and endive

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There’s nothing better than a home-dried herb. The taste is always much stronger than the store-bought ones, and you can mix the herbs you like. I used to dry my herbs separately and had a bunch of small jars with different herbs, but lately, I’ve noticed that I always use the same spices together. This is why, this time, I decided to make a mix of garden herbs for everyday cooking.

Luckily this year I planted lots of leafy vegetables and herbs. Over the years, I’ve noticed that I can’t grow big vegetables in my garden. Due to the proximity of the forest, they simply refuse to grow. Parsley won’t grow roots, celery grows only leaves, cabbages can’t grow heads, and everything forms a big green leaf mass, but when it comes to roots there are none.

This is why, this year I grew lots of leafy varieties, and the decision is paying off. I’ve already collected and dried a bunch of herbs, and this week, I decided to harvest some more. So with my normal harvest, I’ve also harvested leafy celery, carrots, parsley, chives, and green onions. I’ve also harvested big endive leaves.

Herb mix

Making your dried herb mix is very easy. No matter how you do it, it will work well. I’ve made it the simplest possible way. After separating the good leaves and soaking them to wash away the dirt, I just cut them into smaller pieces on the oven tray. I didn’t bother with drying the water off or separating the herbs on different trays. I cut them up while they were still wet and mixed everything.

Then I placed them into an oven heated to 50°C/122°F with a fan turned on and left them to dry. I kept stirring the mix every 15-20 minutes, and the mix was dry in a couple of hours. Greens, especially young ones, dry really fast, and even with all the water from washing, they were dry very quickly. Once the mix dried, I crushed the bigger pieces of dry herbs into fine flakes and placed them into a jar.

A mix of this kind can be made with any vegetable or herb and used in every meal. I use it when finishing the dish or 5 minutes before the meal is cooked. It goes great anywhere where any of these vegetables are used. I use it in soups, stews, gravy, risotto, and when baking meat or potatoes. It can be used for salads too, but I prefer not to since I have other herbs for the salad, and one of them is endive.

Endive as a dried herb

When you tell someone that you dry the lettuce, usually the question is why? Lettuce crumbles when dry and doesn’t have a significant nutritional value. It is mostly water, so once you dry it there’s not much left. Also, it can’t be rehydrated. So why dry it?

Well, lettuce after drying still has a much stronger taste than store-bought lettuce. This is true, especially for endive, which can be too bitter when old and hard to eat. But, when those leaves are dried and added to the fresh lettuce, it gives that needed boost that we’re accustomed to tasting when we eat homegrown lettuce.

This is why I dry all of the overgrown leaves. I’m not a fan of bitter food, far from it, I hate bitter food. So as soon as the endive gets older I can’t eat it. I always have some overgrown leaves around the garden, and I started harvesting them and drying them so they wouldn’t go to waste, and now I love them as a herb.

Drying the lettuce

Drying lettuce is done in the same way as the herb mix. I dried them at the same time and prepared the leaves the same way. I removed the bad leaves, soaked the good ones, and placed them on the tray. Since the endive lettuce was much bigger than the herb mix, I added the leaves gradually, every 20 minutes.

When one batch wilted, I moved the herbs to the upper half of the tray and added more leaves to the bottom. Still, even with adding the leaves, both herb mix and endive were dry at the same time. I crumbled the leaves and got a nice full jar of endive herb. I’ll use the leaves with fresh lettuce during winter when it is too cold to grow my lettuce.

Although it may seem like a small amount, this is enough for at least a month of cooking, and I’m really happy with the mix and endive. This kind of mixed herbs is very expensive here, and with the prices going up every day, soon they will cost a small fortune. Having herbs like this will help us a bit, and not to mention that their taste is much stronger than the store-bought herbs.

Next year I will make a big herb garden and try to grow every herb I use. If I manage to plant enough for the whole winter, I will be more than happy.

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