Preserving Garden Herbs for Winter. 

Winter is coming. Anyone out there a Game of Throne-ers like us…? Yes? No? Well anyway…. winter is literally just round the corner here in the PNW, we'll not really since it's fire season here and fires are raging not far off. But with all these fresh herbs filling my house and garden I can't bear the idea of not having some around to lift up my stews and season our meals. Oh those long cold days. How wonderful that sounds right about now. So heres just a few ways I'm preserving my herbs:

  1. Drying
  2. Freezing in olive oil
  3. Infusing in olive oil & vinegar
  4. Pesto!
  5. Extracts and tinctures.

So most of you probably know how to dry herbs, but if not here's the short and sweet version. Bundle and tie herbs together and hang upside down, preferably somewhere away from dust and moisture. Once dry remove leaves from stems, crush or leave whole and store in an air tight container.

  • Currently hanging: Greek oregano, chives, lime and Thai basil. Today I plan to put up some pineapple sage to dry also.

  • Finished product: Greek oregano

Note: With all of the following recipes be sure to pick of any bugs and shake off any dirt hanging on so they/it won't end up in your finished product. I also rinsed all my herbs in cold water and patted them dry.

One of the best ways to preserve that fresh taste is to freeze an herb in olive oil. At the time I did this I had an over abundance of basil so that's what I did plus I love the flavor and olive oil is my chosen cooking oil other than the animals fats. So I simply cut up my basil with some herb shears, covered the bottom of my ice cube tray with the cut herbs and poured the oil over to cover.

  • After freezing overnight.

When it comes to infusing oils and vinegars it's as simple as stuffing a jar full of dried or fresh herbs and pouring the liquid over the top. Make sure all the plant matter is covered in the case of olive oil so as to avoid mold. I infused olive oil (any other oils work also; avocado, canola, etc.) with all kinds of basils and oregano. I infused vinegar with the basil also. These will both be used for salad dressings and cooking in the winter. Put them in a dark place to infuse for a couple months. If using fresh herbs you may encounter some cloudiness in your oils due to the water in the leaves. If so just leave off the lid for a day or so (if it's warm out) and the water particles will quickly evaporate. Below are a few of the infusions.

  • Vinegar left and olive oil right.

I don't know about you but I love pesto! And anyway I can get it cheaper than the store is right up my ally. Most of the ingredients are common stock for most kitchens, simply source yourself some pine nuts and you're on your way! I found a few great recipes on Pinterest.
Hint: fresh basil from the garden works best!

  • If you want this to last I suggest doing a double batch in order to freeze some and eat some fresh. As you can see mine is halfway gone… Can you say yum?!

Extracts and tinctures sound harder than they are and some recipes call for a little more measuring than I chose to do. I made it simple like Shaye from The Elliott Homestead with her echinacea tincture. I stuffed my jars full of these herbs and dumped vodka on them. My currents extractions and tinctures consist of echinacea tincture (recipe courtesy of The Elliott Homestead as I stated above) and chocolate mint extract. Very soon I'll be making my own homemade vanilla extract for which I might consult an actual recipe since it seems it needs to be a little more exact. As for the mint and echinacea I did as follows. Prepare clean jars. Clip fresh herbs. Leaves and stems (echinacea also the blossoms). Stuff in jars. Pour vodka completely over foliage so it is entirely submerged. Fasten with air tight lid. Boom.

  • Pow Wow Echinacea
  • Freshly stuffed jar of Echinacea.

  • After a few days the flowers will lose their bright color

  • Chocolate Mint extract

  • I highly suggest labeling everything you extract, tincturize, or infuse. Herbs lose their form and color slightly and it can be hard to tell what's what after a few days. Been there, done that. Labels are you friend!

Well there you have it! Many ways to save those fresh herbs. From freezing over night, drying for a weekish, or waiting those few months to use your yummy garden goodies you'll be set for winter. It's well worth it folks. Make sure you prune your herbs regularly so they stay around longer and don't bolt. Once they do save those seeds folks! Aaaaand don't forget to start more herbs for your fall garden, if you treat them right you may be able to keep them inside for the long haul!

Purple basil anyone?

Peace and Love,
Quincy

What To Do When Your Dogs Get Skunked! 

Might I take this chance to introduce you to a few of my fur babies…?

This is Dixie Mae, culprit of the stink numbero uno. 

She was skunked about a month, being her (our) first time we had no idea what that burning hair/plastic smell was. No joking, Spencer and I searched for the ‘electrical fire’ source for about two hours before deeming ourselves insane. 


By routine the next morning Spencer gave Dixie her goodbye kisses before leaving for work, only to find out his face and beard would then be smelling of skunk for the days entirety… and then some.. 

So yes, she stank up the house for a good 8 hours before we noticed… ufda. 

Next on the rap sheet Mr. Kato… he was the antagonist of the satire which was the other night… he was so close to the skunk that half his face was yellow…. sigh. Save to say the swear words were a flyin’ around the middle of that night. 

His side kick? That ever dependable and trouble-making sister Brodee Sue.


So what do you do in these most stinky of circumstances?

Take a deep breath (since you’ll not want to for three months) and try to laugh about it. Dogs will be dogs and skunks will happen from time to time. Like Forrest Gump said, “sh*t happens… sometimes…”

In the one month since we moved all (three) of our dogs have been sprayed by a skunk. So you could say I’ve had some time to experiment with how to keep the smell at bay. 

To keep things easiest I won’t talk about what didn’t work… (tomato juice/sauce bath) ahem….

But what has WORKED for us:

– Bath your dog (and yourself) in Dawn dish soap… since you’ll likely end up in the shower and wet anyway. Trust me the smell passes from family member to family with haste. 

– After the shower wipe down your fur baby with a rag dampened with hydrogen peroxide. Let dry. 

– Wipe down a second time with an apple cider vinegar dampened rag. Let dry.  

– Keep diluted spray bottle (ACV + water) on hand for intermittently spritsing your dog and whatever bedding they’re using. We went so far as to spray this in the air once a day when the smell would come back up. 

– Diffuse CPTG essential oils FOREVER — as you already should be ;)!!! Since we only have one diffuser I let my tea kettle steam with OnGuard EO on board. In the meantime I’ve had an assortment of Lemon, Lemongrass, Wild Orange, Lavendar, OnGuard, Grapefruit and Cedarwood hard at work, and boy does it take that stench away. 

• Don’t have essential oils?? Visit my online store —-> HERE!

– Double wash any garment/linen that has come into contact with said stinky pup. I usually use an environmentally friendly detergent but we went full out on Arm & Hammer with OxyClean. 

Unfortunately there is no immediate quick fix to get rid of the smell completely. It’s all you can do to keep it at bay. The spray from the skunk attaches to hair follicles and gets into skin pores, worst part? It will not be totally gone for up to 3 months. So you’re in for the long haul folks. 

Ok so not all of these are the most natural of remedies. But let’s just say being pregnant with three skunked out dogs has been no cup of tea.. But if these worked for me I’m sure they can help you to. 

Anyone else’s dog ever been skunked? I would love to hear what y’all did to beat the stink. 

Peace and Love,

Q