I’ve always loved drying things. For some reason it seems even more old fashioned than all the other preservation methods. Also, I have such magical memories of my favourite children’s picture book, Jill Barklem’s The Secret Staircase in which the mice of Brambley Hedge seem to have strings of everything from herbs to crabapples etc hanging threaded in front of roaring fires or suspended for contingency in the rafters… note the lofty field mushrooms below. ( I suppose this book has a lot to answer for in terms of style references in my life…)
In my quest for self sufficiency in home medication (which I have sadly long since dropped – amazing what you have time for when at university supposedly writing essays) I used to diligently pick and string delicately with needle and thread heads of pollen-heavy elderflower, bunches of lavendar, yarrow stalks etc. I was pretty nifty on the herbal concoctions – in fact my patent hangover mix was a frequent reviver for many a disadvantaged anti-allopathic hippy (One teaspoon each of dried elderflower and peppermint; half a teaspoon each of dried rosemary and lavendar – brewed 10 mins and imbibed, guaranteed to stimulate the senses).
Currently I am a little more focused on the culinary and have been putting by a load of bay leaves, rosemary and rose petals. We have the most enormous bay tree/hedge/Green Knowe-esque behemoth at the bottom of the garden which is a fantastic resource. The rosemary is a twisting craggy beast that I have only just discovered at the end of the terrace, after years of wishing we had some in the garden… How short-sighted. Anyway, I capitalised on it and got a good tinfull onto the shelf.
And I can’t resist rose petals. I like to think I will make tea with them and I suppose I do occasionally, with honey. But really I am saving them to use as confetti at friends’ weddings. I haven’t yet actually remembered that I am in possession of this resource in conjunction with preparing to go to a wedding though so I am yet to experience the secret satisfaction of throwing my own home-cured rose petals at anyone. One day I will get it together…