Drying Herbs

Tabitha:

I have to vent.  I hate sodium.  As a dietitian I see people every day in my office that has hypertension (high blood pressure).  One of the main contributors to hypertension is our society’s over consumption of the salty stuff.  Don’t have a salt shaker at home?  Doesn’t matter.  Studies show that only a 1/3 of of salt is added by the salt shaker!  The rest is either naturally occuring or is ALREADY in our foods!  Processed foods are a huge source of sodium in our food – for example the average tomato is salted 7 times before it becomes your tomato sauce.  That explains why some tomato sauces can have almost 1/2 of your days intake of salt!  Some fast food meals can contain MORE than what you need for an entire day.

How much do we need?  Average Canadian adult needs less than 1500mg/day.  That adds up quickly if you eat processed foods, packaged foods, lunch meats, soups and sauces…and especially fast foods.  Most Canadians get more than 3000mg/day – this puts us at risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, asthma, osteoporosis, kidney problems, and more.

A good guide to knowing if a food is low in salt is by reading the nutrition label:

0-200mg of sodium = good ahead

200-400mg of sodium = watch out

400mg and more = too much

For more information on this checkout www.sodium101.ca and check out their consumer’s guide.

Our taste buds crave salt because that is what they are used to.  To train ourselves otherwise try cooking from scratch (all the recipes on this blog will be lower in sodium) and using herbs, spices, vinegars, and other salt-free seasonings to flavour your foods.  Watch out too – some seasoning mixes are basically salt – like lemon pepper, garlic salt, onion salt, Montreal steak spice and more – check the ingredient list and the nutrition facts panel!

I love to get fresh herbs from the garden.  But I also enjoy using herbs all throughout the winter.  So I dry them and keep them in an air tight container.  And it couldn’t be simpler!

Step 1: pick herbs (I bought some at the local farmer’s market) – try basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, dill and more!

Step 2: tie at the base and hang upside down in a cool and dry place OR place on a baking sheet in a cool and dry place.

Step 3: let dry for a few days until all leaves are dry – you can place them in ziploc baggies or spice containers.  Tip: leave the spices whole until you want to use them – then crush them with your hands before adding them to your food – more flavour that way.  The spices will take a varying amount of time to dry depending on the moisture content of your house.  If you have a dehumidifier that works well to dry them out quickly.  I have had mine hanging for about 4 days now and they are almost dry!

Want more information on spices and cooking?  Check it out online – this is a good link as well: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/guide-to-fresh-herbs/index.html

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