A wide selection of herbs ideal for cooking, baking and drinking will be sold at annual sale May 24
Hundreds of people are expected to gather on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 24, for the annual Heirloom Plant and Herb Sale sponsored by the Ozaukee Master Gardeners.
More than 10,000 plants will be available for purchase, including heirloom tomatoes and peppers, rare and unusual herbs and hardy roses.
There will be a sample table where people can taste herbs before buying the plants, fresh baked goods, garden treasures and an herbal tea bar.
Herbal teas are a popular way to use herbs, and the Ozaukee Master Gardeners has recently compiled a brochure on making and using herbs in teas. Following is advice from the brochure, which was compiled by Cindy Behlen.
When harvesting herbs for tea, collect the flowers after they have just fully bloomed and the leaves just before the buds open. If the roots are needed, harvest them when hardy and fully developed and the plant is dormant.
Leaves and flowers should be collected between mid-morning and mid-afternoon on a sunny day, after the dew has evaporated and the sun’s warmth has allowed the volatile oils to begin flowing.
Select leaves and flowers that are free of ragged edges and healthy, pinching them from the plant rather than cutting them to close the broken stem and retain juices in the plant.
Don’t crush the leaves and blooms. Layer them loosely in an open container — don’t use a plastic container or condensation can form, turning the herbs black during the drying process.
To dry the herbs, place them on a cookie sheet in a 90 to 110 degree oven, use a dehydrator on the herb setting or a screened drying rack.
You can also tie the stems in bunches and hang them upside down in a warm, dry location. If you need the seeds, follow the same directions but place the seed heads in a paper bag and, once the plants are dry, shake so the seeds fall into the bag.
Store the herbs in airtight glass jars in a dark, dry place.
When brewing teas, remember that herbal teas don’t turn darker the stronger they get.
Don’t brew your tea in a tin or aluminum pot, which can lend a metallic taste to the tea. Brew you tea in a covered cup or pot to prevent the nutrients and oils from evaporating.
To brew a cup using leaves and flowers, pour one cup of boiling water into a cup over 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or 1 tablespoon of fresh, crushed herbs. Allow the tea to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’re using seeds, such as fennel, crush them before steeping using either a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee grinder. Use 2 cups boiling water to 1 tablespoon crushed seeds, simmering for 20 minutes.
If using roots like echinacea, add 1 teaspoon dried roots to 2 cups cold water and simmer to strength, generally 20 minutes.