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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Autumn Preserves

Summer preserving is a mad time but I would have to say that autumn is the same, if not, it at least comes a close second. In the autumn my preserving comes from some cultivated crops like chillies, lemongrass and various herbs both culinary and medicinal but it also comes from foraged plants too like rosehips and hawberries and plantain and late red clover.

When I moved into my house nearly 30 years ago, there was a hook in the corner of the ceiling in the dinning room. I suspect it was from a macramé hanging of the 1980's and rather than deal with a hole I left the hook and painted it inconspicuous white. I'm so glad I did and I can't tell you how often I use it. Once I got past the "my home should look like the pages of Home Beautiful" stage and actually started to live in my home, I started drying my herbs here because the heating tends to get a bit trapped towards the ceiling here and it makes it perfect for drying. At the moment I am drying large bundles of wormwood in flower. If you can get hold of one of these old fashioned onion, shallot, garlic keeping hangers of collapsible hanging baskets do so; currently my beans are finishing off here for dried beans but I use it often for curing my soaps too. 

Here I am stripping and storing previously hung wormwood. This will be made into nesting box potpourri for the chickens and also insect repelling sachets for the linens and storage cupboards.
The jar behind contains the rose hips that I foraged the other day. Having them dried and stored means I can use them for salve making or tincturing or cordial another day when they are needed. I might even use them hot glued on a Christmas wreath!

I'm collecting seeds and podding dried beans and making dried teas. Above is the head of a Giant Russian sunflower and the purple king beans dried and ready, also a bunch of dried lemongrass that has been air drying. The lemongrass has been chopped in the Thermomix and is now ready for herbal tea blends and adding to tub teas.
The dehydrator is great for small herbs and holds the colour beautifully. I'm drying oregano, calendula, mint and parsley. These ingredients will be used when needed for meals, salve and soap making and herbal blends for bath, body and chickens! There is still so much to be gleaned and harvested.
another important preserving technique.


  1. Very inspiring Tanya. I will look out for one of those hanging baskets. Space is at a premium here, and my curing soaps keep getting moved from pillar to post!

  2. I use one of those hanging baskets for my fruit but wasn't permitted to put one of those hooks in the wall (I wish I was) but hung it instead from the curtain rod holder. I'd not thought of using it to dry herbs etc though. I wonder if my husband would notice if I bought a few more baskets and put some hooks in inconspicuous places around the house. ;)
    I have to agree, autumn preserving is just as busy as summer but far easier without exceptional heat with which to deal. I love being able to use my wood stove for any bottling. :)

  3. Careful with the wormwood. It's toxic to many species, and is frequently used to kill intestinal worms in goats. It can also cause abortions in goats and people. Naturally knowing this, your chooks may choose to shun the nesting boxes if there's too much in the sachet. I'd be worried more if there are chicks. I do grow and harvest and wormwood myself, but do so cautiously and with care. :)

    1. Wormwood is a known uterine expellent and yes you definitely want to keep it away from anyone/anything expecting but in this case I'm using it as an insect deterrent as they do not like the aroma and exudations from the plant particularly when it's warm, as it will be with a hen nesting. It is also an excellent repellent for intestinal worms too and ideal to have it growing in the pen as your birds will self medicate. Toxicity in poultry I believe has only occurred when people have offered it (with the best of intentions I'm sure) as feed/in feed and the chickens are forced to eat it through hunger rather than self medicate in a graze situation. Also important to remember, some people go crazy for worm eradication but a balanced population is beneficial so rather than take a hand dosing your birds it's better to let them be the guide here. I can see a whole other post about nesting boxes coming up though. Thanks for your cautions and additional information Kat, especially for those practising animal husbandry.


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