Animals

7 Clear Signs Herbs Are Ready To Be Harvested (Plus How to Store Them)

The foliage, seeds, and blooms of the plants indicate when the herbs are ready to be harvested. There are general guidelines you can use to choose your plants, but each species of herb will have a particular best time to harvest. Now that you have invested the necessary effort in planting them in the proper soil, providing them with food and water, you may finally enjoy the results of your labor.

Herbs must be stored after harvesting in order to be used at a later time. Depending on the kind of herb you have and your intended usage, there are a few different ways to store it.

To ensure you have the best garden experience, learn when to harvest and how to store your herbs before you plant them.

1. Before Full Flower

The herbs are ripe for harvesting just before the blossom on the plant opens to full bloom. The bud of a plant has the most oil and flavor content when it buds. The flavor of the buds reaches its peak when they are almost ready to open.

When picking certain herbs, it’s ideal to do it after the blossom has flowered. This is accurate if you intend to use flower petals—such as rose petals—in your food or cosmetic procedures. It’s possible that medicinal herbs must fully blossom before being harvested.

2. When Seed Pods Change Color

Herbs that are ready to be plucked will change color in their pods and seeds. When black cardamom pods and seeds are young, they are green; as they mature, they turn brown; when they turn grey, they are ready to be harvested.

The change from brown to gray can occur quickly, so after the seeds and pods turn brown, pay close attention to them.

3. When Oils Are At Their Highest Levels

Harvesting basil herbs occurs when the plant has four sets of unfurled leaves. These plants have the highest oil concentration just before the flower buds open, when they still have flower buds. Keep an eye out for clues indicating the plant’s oil content is high in the leaves. A high oil level will make the leaves lustrous; a low oil content would make the leaves brittle and drab.

4. Early In The Day

Early in the day is when all herbs are ready to be gathered. The timing of when you harvest the plant’s flowers and foliage will have a significant impact on the flavor of the plant. The herbs are at their most flavorful early in the morning, when the dew has dried on the leaves.

It is easier on the plants if you harvest your veggies and herbs before the sun rises. The plant is slightly traumatized when you pick it. Picking in the heat of the day can cause additional stress to the plant, making it more vulnerable to sun damage.

5. When The Plant Is Hearty

When the plants have produced enough new growth to allow for trimming or pruning, the herbs are ready to be harvested. Herbs grow best when they are frequently trimmed. The plant’s health improves after cutting since it stimulates the formation of new shoots. Up to 75% of the plant can be harvested at once.

Before the plant flowers, sage has the finest flavor. The flavor of the leaves is lost as the blossoms grow. Select just the amount of leaves you will need if you plan to utilize them right away; if you want to keep or preserve them, select as many leaves as the plant can withstand. Make sure the plant has enough leaves to support its strength and allow it to grow again.

6. Harvest Perennials Before Late Summer

Knowing that herbs can be gathered before late summer is helpful. Plants will wilt and blister when the heat of the sun hits them in late summer. The flavor and scent of plants are likewise diminished by the sun. Herbs that are left in the garden until late summer can get overheated or lose their flavor.

You may be guaranteed to have the most flavorful and freshest herbs possible if you harvest and prepare them for storage before the end of summer.

7. Before The Frost Herbs are Ready to be Harvested

Plants may die from the frost or enter a dormant state. Your herb plants should never be covered with frost. Plants lose some of their texture, color, and flavor once they are frozen in a field.

How To Store Herbs After Harvesting

Sun-Drying

One of the most popular methods for drying herbs before storing them is sun drying. The herbs can be preserved in glass jars, plastic zipper bags, plastic resealable containers, or by hanging them from a rope once they have dried.

It’s simple to sun-dry herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Make little bundles out of the leaves as you pick it. Tie string around the bundles to secure the parts together. dangle the packages

Air-drying

The plants are dried in different ways depending on whether they are air-dried or sun-dried. Air-dried plants can be hung from the rafters of your garage or basement, while sun-dried plants require direct sunlight. They can air dry in a dimly lit space.

You must shield the plants from moisture, such as rain or condensation, in order for air drying to be successful. Because smaller bundles dry faster, hang them in little bunches. Plant bundles can be air-dried by putting them in a brown paper bag with the stem side facing up. You will need to punch ventilation holes in the paper bag. It could take as little as one week for your herbs to mature.

When the plants are completely dry, place them in airtight containers and keep the containers out of direct sunlight.

Microwave Drying

Microwave drying works well for tiny quantities of herbs. It dries the leaves more quickly than using a dehydrator, preventing the growth of mold. Once the leaves are removed from the microwave, let them cool before putting them in an airtight container.

Dehydration

Compared to other herbs, thyme and delicate ones like lemon balm have more moisture in their leaves. Thus, if the leaves are not dried soon, the additional moisture will cause mold to grow on them. Using a dehydrator to quickly remove moisture while preserving flavor is a great method for leaf dehydration.

Once the leaves have lost their moisture content, place them in a sealed container.

Freezing

Herbs like parsley, mint, and basil are excellent choices for freezing. Remove the leaves off the plant’s stems. Wash the foliage. Pour half of the water into each quadrant of an ice cube tray. Next, fill each portion of the ice cube with one spoonful of leaves. Soak the leaves in the water by pushing them down. Put them in the freezer and leave it there until they solidify.

After removing the cubes from the tray, store them in your freezer until you’re ready to use them by placing them in a plastic storage bag.