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To Dry Herbs

Herbs too she knew, and well of each could speak
That in her garden sipp'd the silvery dew,
Where no vain flower disclosed a gaudy streak,
But herbs, for use and physic, not a few
Of gray renown, within those borders grew,—
The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
Fresh balm, and marigold of cheerful hue,
The lowly gill, that never dares to climb,
And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme.


It is very important to know when the various seasons commence for picking sweet and savory herbs for drying. Care should be taken that they are gathered on a dry day, by which means they will have a better color when dried. Cleanse them well from dirt and dust, cut off the roots, separate the bunches into smaller ones, and dry them by the heat of the stove, or in a Dutch oven before a common fire, in such quantities at a time, that the process may be speedily finished, i.e. "Kill 'em quick," says a great botanist; by this means their flavor will be best preserved. There can be no doubt of the propriety of drying, etc., hastily by the aid of artificial heat, rather than by the heat of the sun. In the application of artificial heat, the only caution requisite is to avoid burning; and of this a sufficient test is afforded by the preservation of the color. The best method to preserve the flavor of aromatic plants is to pick off the leaves as soon as they are dried, and to pound them, and put them through a hair sieve, and keep them in well-stopped bottles labelled.


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A Poetical Cook-Book (1864).

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