Drying Herbs in a Microwave

This past fall in our little half acre backyard we finally planted our big garden, something Weldon and I have always wanted to do since we’ve lived here. There’s just something that is satisfying to the soul when you get to bring produce that you grew to the table to eat.

There was one spot in the yard this year that I had all to myself -the herb garden bed. I love growing fresh herbs mostly because I love the accessibility. Just like eating a veggie that’s been homegrown, I get that same soul-satisfaction when I can incorporate my herbs into all my everyday cooking. The flavor is intensified to a whole new level.

Some herbs however have a small window of opportunity when they can be cut straight off the plant and used fresh. It’s important to harvest before they flower and begin to seed. Many times, I’ve bought a plant and couldn’t use it all up to cut for fresh before it flowered. So when I was left with a bed full of delectable herbs, I needed a way to preserve them, so I decided to use the microwave method.

When I learned that you can go from fresh herbs to dry and crumbly herbs in less than two minutes just by using your microwave, I was sold! I wanted something quick and easy that didn’t take days to complete (like air-drying) or require extra attention and counter space (like a dehydrator).

Here are some more benefits to making your own microwave-dried herbs:

  • For the gardener: it utilizes harvest without as much waste (actually dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor, so you can use less)
  • For fresh herbs bought at the market: use them all and have them around longer (since you usually don’t use the entire bunch anyways)
  • For the time-saver: let’s you skip chopping since they are already dried and crumbled (just re-hydrate and you are ready to go!)
  • For the impatient one: The project is done and over with quickly, no hanging bouquets or heating up the house with the oven.
  • For the health conscious: add your dried herbs to your favorite seasoning mixes for extra nutrition and flavor (plus you’ll know exactly where they came from)

After using this method a few times, I learned some tips and tricks along the way to making it simple and fast, so let’s begin!

First you’ll need to remove your herbs off of their stems. Grab a paper towel, lay it on a microwave safe plate and scatter them out on top of it in a single layer.

Then layer another paper towel over top and set your plate in the microwave.

From here, you will begin microwaving your herbs in short 30-45 second bursts until they are brittle and able to crumble easily between your fingers.

Keep in mind that this tutorial was completed using a curled leaf parsley, which can hold less moisture than larger herbs like basil or sage. Given that trait, larger herbs will need more microwave time.

See the progression here as the parsley is microwaved from fresh to dried. Start with 30 second bursts. Each round open the microwave door up for a few seconds to let the heat escape. Over-heated herbs will cook down and burn instead of drying out correctly.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Then the test: when it’s completely brittle and  can crumble easily between your fingers.

Tip: After testing a few pieces, I leave the rest of my leaves whole so then depending on my recipe I can adjust them to whatever size I need.

Storing your Dried Herbs:

Herbs can be stored in any air-tight container or bag. As long as moisture can stay out, they will be safe. Remember that if you use a clear or glass container, keep it in a dark place as light exposure will discolor your herbs. My favorite way to store my herbs are in my Ball canning jars. I use the 4oz and pint jars for larger quantities.

Instead of using regular canning lids, I found these awesome dry herb and spice shaker cap lids from Ball. In the past, I have used old Parmesan cheese container lids which fit perfectly onto standard mouth jars but I found that they do not keep the moisture out as well.

 

Here is a comparison to store bought dried herbs vs. my own fresh herbs that were dried in the microwave. The bottom right is the parsley that was dried for this tutorial. Bottom left is my own dried herbs two months after storing and the top is store bought. Notice the color differences as well as how much better it holds it’s shape! Plus I know exactly what my herbs were grown with and in!

There you go; my super quick and easy way to dry and store your own fresh herbs…stay tuned for additional herb seasoning mix recipes that I’ll be making with my harvest!

 

 

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Ten Things This Blog is NOT About – Part Three

Welcome back to the third and final post in the series, “Ten Things This Blog is NOT About”. In case you’ve missed the first two, you can read part one here and part two here.

These last four might dig a little deeper than the previous ones but hopefully you’ll be able to see a little more of my heart here.

We’ve already discussed the first 6 in previous posts, so let’s jump right into number seven!

  1. This blog is NOT about showing off. 

I’ll be real, I ride the struggle bus with this sometimes. I believe we all have the desire to want to be known and for others to know what we are doing in some respect. But where do you draw the line between sharing your life and offering genuine hospitality or just plain showing off? It is a matter of the heart. I want you to know as I have mentioned several times already, that I am not here out of arrogance or boastfulness but only to serve and to love.

Here at Southern Meets Mennonite my mission is to share with you a heritage of hospitality. The purpose of that mission is for this blog to be a ministry to help you while glorifying Jesus. How does re-purposing an old wooden chicken from Goodwill glorify Jesus you ask? Well, it in itself does not. However the community and fellowship that is created when we come together re-purposing wooden chickens very well could. The bible calls us as believers to be in community with one another. It also encourages us to enjoy the gifts God has given us in life. That means we should be constantly looking for ways to open our hearts to others to love and serve them, and find joy in the process.

You see, genuine biblical hospitality comes from a humble, vulnerable heart. It has nothing to do with being crafty, gourmet cooking, or a spotless home but rather being available and obedient to God’s commandment to us. It doesn’t have to be organized or strategically planned because it usually happens unexpectedly. It also is not just for the people we like or that share our same social status, it is for everyone.This is the mission of every post or activity this blog does -to be humble, genuine, loving servants that overflow with real hospitality. If we are only cooking, cleaning, or crafting things to put on a show, then we are missing the true blessing that comes when we can give and receive hospitality with others. I pray that this blog will help both you and I to evaluate the real matters and intentions of our own hearts when it comes to this.

  1. This blog is NOT about exploiting, offending, or criticizing the Mennonite Community.

The name “Southern Meets Mennonite” was created to represent our lifestyle that I will be blogging about. Although we plan to go into more detail as time goes along, here are some important facts you need to know first:

  • My husband and I are not members of a Mennonite church nor do we live by the guidelines that exist within the denomination. Therefore, we are not representing any Mennonite church or its beliefs through this blog.
  • The Mennonite organization is a Christian denomination. Just like there are Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., being Mennonite is a preference of how to practice the Christian Faith.
  • My husband was raised in a Mennonite church and was a member there until 2011. That is where most of his family attend too.
  • I was raised in a Baptist church where my husband and I now serve, but we visit the Mennonite church often.
  • There are LOADS of Mennonite people who we love and who we care deeply about — and most of them are related to us.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, “Southern Meets Mennonite” basically stands for “Sarah Meets Weldon”, or “These Family Traditions Meets These Family Traditions”. This blog was created to specifically share a story where a southern raised girl married a Mennonite raised boy and the unique lifestyle that brings. It in no way, shape, or form is meant to exploit the religion, offend it, debate it, or criticize it.  Instead this blog is here to share the special community that exists within the culture. If you want to taste some of the best home cooked meals and baked goods known to man, then you should have a seat at my precious mother-in-law’s table –a table handmade by my father-in-law that can extend across their dining room to seat 20! It is more than just the cooking that’s admirable, it is the way Mennonites live to serve one another. I have truly fallen in love with their hearts and their way of life.

This is why I clearly want to express my intentions. I hope to elaborate more on the Mennonite Community, their traditions, lifestyle, and beliefs to give you a glimpse of the wonderful people I am privileged to call my family and friends.

  1. This blog is NOT about being politically correct.

I am not much of a debater or a very good arguer. I would make a horrible lawyer because most of my defenses would end in, “because that’s just how it is”. I am however, not afraid to defend the truth. There will be times when I will feel led to share my opinions and beliefs on certain controversial issues. Not to viciously stir a pot, but to practice my freedom I have to openly share my stances.  I vow to do that in respect and in love, but I can not always promise that it will not be offensive to some. I stand on the truth that is found in God’s Word, the Bible. If some one does not believe the Bible as their absolute truth, then I’m 99% sure what I say will probably end up offending them in some way.

This blog will not be politically correct. I might receive negative feedback, ratings, or nasty emails because of it, but that is okay. I will love my readers who agree or disagree with me all the same, because that is what I’m called to do. Don’t worry, I have a feeling these kind of posts won’t happen often, but I just wanted to preface them ahead of time. A special note to the reader who might disagree with me, please, I ask for your respect in any responses back to me. I promise to give it to you, tenfold.

  1. This blog is NOT about me.

We finally made it to the end. After all I’ve written above, I pray that this point shines through brighter than the rest.

This blog, although written by me and my life, is not supposed to be about me. I want it to exist and be read to glorify Jesus. Above anything else you take away from my posts, I want you to see, know, and understand what His love really means. I want you to experience His unfathomable grace, the beauty in His mercy, and the hope in His redemption.

Maybe you’re not ready for all of that just yet. Maybe you are struggling with truth and how to live in it. Or, maybe you are a believer already and just looking for community and growth in your life. Wherever you are, I want you to know I am here for you. I get it. Living in this world isn’t easy.

I’m praying for you my dear brother or sister, that God gives you exactly what you need today. And tomorrow, that He’ll give you what you need to face that day too. And remember, I’m just a click away if you need me!

 

There you have it! The Ten Things this Blog is NOT About. I hope you’ve caught some of my vision for this blog and are as excited as I am for its future!

Saved to Serve,

SarahBeth

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Ten Things This Blog is NOT About – Part Two

Welcome back!

Last week in my part one post, I introduced to you the first three things on my list which were:

  1. This blog is NOT about my perfect life.
  2. This blog is NOT about professional culinary arts skills. 
  3. This blog is NOT about the best housekeeping. 

Let’s continue…

  1. This blog is NOT about my perfect marriage.

There is no one on earth that is more hardworking, more generous, or more loving than my wonderful husband. Nothing is better than waking up everyday to live life alongside your best friend.

I’d say Weldon and I both have predominantly easy going personalities. We dislike conflict and are generally flexible people. This doesn’t mean we are perfect, we never disagree, or can not find faults in one another. But in the two short years of marriage we’ve gone through some really good and really bad times that have allowed us to learn so much about the realities of marriage and each other.

I graduated college with a degree in Psychology & Christian Counseling. To say I love talking about how and why people relate to each other is an understatement. I love to analyze people and the subject of marital relationship is among one of my favorites. Sometimes I over do it but most of the time, it leads me to giving more grace to my husband and those around me.

When I share things about marriage in general or my marriage specifically, it’s not coming from a desire to project an arrogance that mine is any better than yours. My hope is that together, you and I can encourage each other along the way as we grow in the most important earthly relationship that has ever existed!

  1. This blog is NOT about righteous parenting.

As I’m writing this post, I am currently about 5 months deep into this whole mommy life. In July of 2016, we were blessed with twin girls. What a ride it’s been already! We still have absolutely no idea what we are doing either.

May the Lord have mercy on us in the coming years. We have the greatest ideas of how we are going to raise our children up, you know because in 5 months we have basically become pure experts –not in the slightest!

I’m looking forward to blogging about our journey as parents and how in the world in today’s society we can raise up children that are responsible, polite and ambitious disciples of Christ. We absolutely do not have all the answers and will absolutely mess up along the way. But we know God entrusted us with them and we are going to do all we can to honor Him through it all.

  1. This blog is NOT about only choosing one thing to be good at.

I have a problem. I’m addicted to hobbies. I have tons of ideas for doing and creating a million projects then rarely ever complete most of them. If I do complete one, I’m usually then ready to move on to something completely different which is one of the reasons why God gave me twin girls. I make one cute hair bow or spend days crocheting the most precious pair of booties only to have to repeat exactly what I just did for my other child. I believe it’s His way of bringing some consistency into my life, but I digress.

I have enough arts and crafts supplies to fund a road-side Hobby Lobby stand. I also have about 15-20 started but not finished projects sitting in my craft room right now that range from an insulated casserole cover to a needing-to-be-painted wooden chicken shaped key holder I found at Goodwill. Yet I still am filling up my Pinterest boards with new ideas.

I certainly need to find some balance and consistency in this area of my life which I intend to, through this blog by posting tutorials for my most recent completed projects. However I can not promise to solely focus on one type of craft or hobby for you forever. I am in full support of hobbies and people that have multiple things they are good at doing. But, I also admire those faithful and steady experts out there that devote their life to excelling in one special thing so the rest of us can learn from their wisdom.

 

Come back next week to hear the final four things this blog is not about!

Saved to Serve,

SarahBeth

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Ten Things This Blog is NOT About – Part One

Before I start my blogging journey here with you, I’d like to draw a blueprint to lay out a clear picture for you to see what we’re all about. My number one goal in creating this blog is to use it as a ministry to help others. That help will come in a variety of forms but my hope is that in every post, you’ll come away with something. Whether it’s a new skill, encouragement, inspiration or just a few minutes to escape the everyday crazies of life; I hope you find it here and find it well.

There’s just one problem though: my architectural skills kind of stink. Most of the men in my life are skilled in carpentry so whenever I’ve needed something built, I’ve sought their help. I usually have difficulty explaining exactly what I want unless I show pictures of what I don’t want. It goes something like, “I need a table the size of picture one but in the style of picture two and then stained like picture three” and then I wonder why they never want to build stuff for me.

I’ve decided to do the same thing with you -instead of telling you what I want this blog to be about, I’d rather share with you what it’s not going to be about. And no worries, I won’t be asking you to build a thing.

Alright so let’s start with number one:

1. This blog is NOT about my perfect life.

News Flash: I am not perfect. Boom. I said it. So there’s no point in me trying to paint this grandeur picture of my beautifully organized and happy life because we all know it’s not reality. The last thing I want to do is give you any misconceptions about who I am or what I believe. I want to be real with you so you can be real with me. I also want you to be okay with not always being okay. Because, what’s the point of spending our time here on something that’s fake anyways?

I make mistakes all the time and I know because I’m human, more will come. I speak without thinking and forget things often. I have days when my husband comes home and I’m in tears over something silly. I have drawers that won’t close all the way, unless you cram the junk that’s in there really deep down inside. My twin girls do not always wear matching outfits or hair bows. I eat at McDonald’s more than I should and I kill plants because I forget to water them.

While I share the many things about my life through this blog, please do not ever get the impression that I am someone who has it all together, all the time. My purpose here is to share my life with you to first bring glory to my Savior and King Jesus. Second, it is to help you, the reader of my blog to learn, grow, laugh, and enjoy all the beautiful gifts God has given us- together! I’m no one superior, highly educated, or skilled. I’m just here for YOU!

2. This blog is NOT about professional culinary arts skills. 

I am not a professional chef nor do I ever aspire to be but I was a middle school culinary arts teacher for one entire semester -yes, quite an accomplishment. We learned how to not put metal in a microwave, how to make salsa, and decorated some cute cupcakes. I loved teaching culinary but it was in no way formal or professional instruction. This blog will not reflect that type of instruction either.

Cooking and baking in my home kitchen are my absolute favorite things to do. This blog will have many recipes from my family and my own creations. I learned the basics from my mother and grandmother when it comes to kitchen skills, but the rest have been learned either from personal research, have been self taught or learned from my in-laws. They probably will never be enough to win Chopped, but they sure are enough to make my husband happy and my friends smile. I hope my recipes are appealing to the average home cook who likes to be creative and try new things. I am constantly learning new things in my kitchen. I have a passion for teaching this subject to the novice cook as well as sharing tips and tricks with the experienced cooks out there too.

3. This blog is NOT about the best housekeeping.

Ok I have to laugh at this one…and my sweet husband would probably laugh even harder. I am definitely not a neat person. Being tidy and organized has never come natural to me. I make things harder on myself by not putting things away where they go and by not cleaning as I go (especially when I’m cooking -ask my mother, she comments about this charming habit of mine every time we are in a kitchen together).

But when I became a wife and now a mom of infant twins, I’ve learned that good housekeeping is not only essential for a smooth functioning home, but it is my duty and calling. Yes -in my role as a wife and a mom, good housekeeping needs to be at the top of my priorities and I struggle with that on the daily! So, I’m still on the journey of learning how I can overcome my natural tendencies to be a down right slob and stick with routines to help me master my housekeeping skills -not to have a perfect house but to create a welcoming, nurturing and comfortable home.

 

Ready to know more? Stop by next week to hear what other things this blog is not about.

Saved to Serve,

SarahBeth

 

 

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