With the approach of the holidays, many of us will be making stuffing and roasting the holiday turkey. There’s nothing better to season both of these than your own homegrown poultry seasoning. Here’s how to grow and concoct your own homegrown poultry seasoning.
Recipe for Poultry Seasoning
Here’s the recipe I use to make our own poultry seasoning.
4 tsp dried marjoram
4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dry sage
2 tsp dry savory
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp white pepper
Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until the mixture becomes a powder. I use a small electric coffee grinder I bought years ago to originally grind up flax seeds. Store in an airtight container. Makes ¼ cup.
I usually don’t make more than this amount at a time as I figure the increased surface area brought on by the grinding may cause the herbs to loose their flavor quicker.
I’ve been making this for decades. Out of all the ingredients, I can produce all of them including the onion powder and celery seed, all except for the white pepper. Not bad.
Growing Your Own Herbs for the Poultry Seasoning
Here’s how to grow the herbs necessary to make this great seasoning. You may also find the information here useful: The Homestead Herb Garden.
Marjoram is a perennial that is often treated as an annual as it’s very subject to winterkill. It can be propagated from seeds but because it’s frost sensitive, transplants should not be set out until danger of frost is past. Seeds can also be directly sown into the ground which is what I usually do.
Thyme is a perennial that with protection, usually survives the winter. One year I forgot to mulch it and it died as a result. Lesson learned the hard way. Thyme can be grown from seed, cuttings or from divisions. It grows low to the ground so as a result stalks can easily be layered with earth for propagation of new plants. If setting out transplants, they can be planted 1 to 2 weeks before the last expected frost.
Sage is a hardy perennial that can survive temperatures of 0ºF if protected with a mulch. It can be grown from seeds, cuttings or divisions. Transplants can be set out 1 to 2 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds for sage can also be direct seeded as soon as the ground can be worked which is how I established our plant.
Savory is an annual whose seeds shouldn’t be sown until the danger of frost is past.
When growing herbs, 3 uses of mulch come to mind. First is the use of mulch for weed suppression during the growing season. Second is using mulch to keep the herbs cleaner and free from mud spatter that results from heavy rains. Lastly is using mulch as winter protection for perennials such as thyme that would likely die without some help.
What material you use for mulch depends on what you have at your disposal. Over the years, we’ve used straw, hay, sawdust that was generated by our portable lumber mill and in more recent years, brush that we’ve shredded with our chipper.
Although herbs can be harvested anytime, they should certainly be picked just before any flowers start to bloom. If at all possible harvest in the morning as soon as any dew has dried as the essential oils in the plants are highest at this time of the day. The more oil there is, the more flavor there is which is of course what you are after.
To harvest, annuals can be trimmed off at ground level unless you hope to get more cuttings from them in which case you should leave some of the stalk intact. Perennials should never be whacked off at ground level though. I like to leave at least 1/3 of the plant intact so it will have enough energy to survive the winter.
Once cut, I bring my harvest into the kitchen where I give the stalks a rinse to remove any stray dirt, then spin them dry in my salad spinner. Next I arrange the stalks in bundles and secure the ends with rubber bands.
To hang for air drying I open a paper clip and insert one end through the loops of the rubber band then put the other end of the paper clip over the wire of my drying rack. I be sure to label which herbs are which so I can tell them apart when they are dry. Once dry many herbs look alike so it’s hard to tell them apart.
Herbs should be crispy when fully dry. If they seem semi-soft and pliable give them more time to dry. I figure at least a week of air drying before I even bother to check them. Herbs can of course be dried in a dehydrator or in the oven set at the lowest temperature with the door slightly ajar.
Once dry, I strip the leaves off the stems then concoct my homegrown poultry seasoning using the recipe above. Your holiday turkey dinner will be awesome! But don’t stop there. Your homegrown poultry seasoning can be used to flavor chicken dishes, soup, stews, casseroles, you name it.
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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