“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” Helen Keller. Welcome, Friends, to the Blog today. Fall rituals, some triggered by scent and some by sight, sooth the soul and allow you to settle comfortably into the seasonal rhythm.
Filling my basket with basil from the garden today evokes memories associated with the heady odor of this fabulous herb. I harvest basil throughout the Summer but somehow it seems more precious in the Fall as I know the time for harvesting this most useful herb is coming to an end.
I love to preserve the scents of Summer for use during the longer Winter months. Strip the Basil from the stem and add it to a food processor with the cutting blade inserted.
Add a clove or two of garlic, some salt and pepper and drizzle oil through the opening until you have a pesto-like consistency. Your kitchen will be filled with the scent of Summer and you will be preserving that memory for a Winter day.
Pour the mixture into a freezer container, cover with plastic to prevent browning and snap on the top. Pop the containers into the freezer and they will be ready to add to a soup, finish the pesto process, or add to a sauce when you can no longer pluck that goodness from the garden.
Indulge in the wonderful taste of tomatoes straight from the garden to the table. Whether your tomatoes come from a Farmer’s Stand or from your backyard they indicate that Summer is drawing to a close and Fall is well on the way. Load your table with this wonderful bounty and taste the warmth of Summer. You can use your homegrown tomatoes to create sauces, relishes, etc. for canning or freezing or just use them for every day meals.
This time of year I harvest my lemon verbena, a truly stellar herb. The whole room fills with a delicate lemony scent as I strip the leaves from the stems in preparation for drying. I use lemon verbena in a lot of recipes. It’s the strongest flavor of all the lemon herbs. Dried it is used in potpourri and brings a lovely scent of Summer when you put it out on a table during the Winter months.
I created a drying rack with a wooden clothes dryer and some store bought screens. Works like a charm. Place it in a room where the rack will not be disturbed and keep it out of direct sunlight. In a few days you will have perfectly dried lemon verbena. Store it in a sealed container ready for making potpourri. The lemony scent will bring back memories of warm Summer days when the temperature drops and you are gathered by the fire.
Another very enjoyable and soothing Fall task involves the dehydrator. I like to air dry my herbs as shown above but for fruit I use the dehydrator. This handy machine has multiple trays that are stacked one on top of the other. This particular one has six trays. There are adjustable air vents on the bottom and additional air vents on the lid.
About three oranges fills up the dehydrator. I just sliced the oranges into 1/4 inch slices and then arrange them in the trays. You don’t want the slices to touch one another and a little space is needed around each slice to allow for air circulation.
You add slices to each tray and stack them as you go. When you are finished just plug the machine in and let it work. Check the slices every 12 hours or so until they have acquired a leathery consistency. Then switch off the dehydrator and allow it to cool completely. You can store the orange slices in an air tight container in a cool place out of direct sunlight. You have them ready to use when you need them.
I’ll add these oranges to my citrus potpourri but you could make garlands, use them for wreaths, or other decorative applications you may have in mind. The best part is the wonderful orange fragrance you get while working with the oranges. It only takes a few minutes to set this up. It takes up to a couple of days for the oranges to dry out.
You probably have some tasks this time of year that help you prepare for Fall. Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy the ones I’ve shared with you today.