Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Goats of Big Buck Ranch

All of my Nigerian Dwarf Goats are registered through either the American Goat Society or the American Dairy Goat Association.  They come from excellent milking lines including Heaven's Hollow, 5280 Farms, Wyojem, and Velvet Acres to name a few.  BOHICA ACRES Dauntless (1 year old doe) and BOHICA ACRES Valentine (4 month old buckling) are not pictured.  The 2 little rascals wouldn't stand still long enough for me to get a photo.  Enjoy!!
Bred-due the end of September

Bred-due the end of October


Oven Drying Fresh Herbs

Fresh Lemongrass and Wild Chamomile drying in the kitchen.

I have been selling herb infused salts and herbal vinegars at the Pine Junction Farmer's Market.  I use fresh, locally grown herbs for both.  The vinegars are easy, I just add the fresh herbs to heated vinegar and let them steep for a few weeks.  When I make salt, I dry the fresh herbs.  Normally I like to air dry them near the kitchen window.  If I'm in a hurry to make salt, I'm finding the oven method is fantastic.

I wash my fresh herbs, pat them dry, and put them on cookie sheets.  As I'm prepping everything I preheat the oven to 175 degrees.   Once I've put the fresh herbs in the oven, I leave the door cracked a little to let moisture escape.  The drying time varies from herb to herb; thyme dries within an hour while sage can take 3-4 hours to dry.  I just keep checking them periodically to see how they're doing, and pull them once they're dry.  After a brief cooling, I strip the herbs from the stems.  Some herbs are easier than others; thyme gets tricky because the leaves are so small and the stems break easily, while sage goes quickly due to the size of the leaves.  

I leave the herbs on the cookie sheet, it makes crushing and bottling so much easier.  Once all of the herbs have been stripped from their stems, I cover them with parchment paper and crush them with a rolling pin.  My kids have a small rolling pin left over from a Strawberry Shortcake baking set, it's the perfect size for the pan I use.  

After the herbs are crushed I pour them into a mason jar to use in making salts or in cooking.  The herbs have such a punch of flavor compared to store bought dried herbs.  The process may seem long, but it's something I can pick up and put down throughout the day depending on my schedule.  All in all it's worth it.