I’m continuing with the garden theme this week, and still working on a recipe that needs a little more fine-tuning before sharing with the world. I’ll be posting it the last week of August, and I think it’s worth the wait to get it just right. In the meantime, I’ve been harvesting herbs from our garden to dry and store because I can’t use all of them fresh, and they’re way overdue for a pruning. The Cuban oregano is towering above them all, and although it smells great and looks beautiful, I’m not quite sure how to use it in what I cook. I’m thinking maybe fríjoles negros (black beans) would be a possibility, but we’ll see.
To dry the herbs I was looking for a simple and cheap solution, since the Excalibur dehydrator I’d like to get is a little more than what I want to spend right now. I mentioned to my husband as we were talking about ideas that maybe some kind of homemade screen with a frame would work. While he was pricing materials in the hardware store, he found an even easier solution, and I think it’s pretty ingenious.
The solution? An adjustable window screen, commonly used to adapt a portable window air conditioner to an existing built-in window. My husband bought the screens at a local hardware store, and they are available in a few different sizes. The cost of the ready-made adjustable window screens are about equal to the cost of materials if you were to make it yourself, and saves you the effort and time as well.
What’s even cooler is that the screens have their own built-in spacing when you slide them all the way open and stack them, as you can see in the picture above. It’s just enough space for the herbs to dry in between, but if I need more, it would be easy to add an improvised spacer of some type on the ends and create more room. In the kitchen we have a large window with a built-in seat, and when fully opened and stacked, the screens sit nicely on the bench. For storage, I can slide the screens all the way closed and stack them together. If you don’t have the extra surface area available in your kitchen, you could also get creative and attach wire and hang them together. This might be a future project to work on once I move the herbs indoors to the window bench during colder weather.
For now though, I’m grateful for a simple solution for drying all those herbs, and a garden to harvest them from. But most of all, I’m thankful for my wonderfully supportive husband, and the time we have together.