California has so much to offer, and I was completely immersed in its beauty when we shot our summer catalogue in Ojai. From local olive and citrus trees to expansive mountains in the distance, being in Ojai was a reminder of nature’s bounty. I have a habit of foraging for herbs and plants to feature in my smudge bundles, but on this trip I felt inspired beyond that. During my intimate dinner party to celebrate our summer collection, I dried fresh herbs to make herb-infused olive oil.
I love to create dried herb bundles because the end result is functional—you can crush or grind them for vibrant seasoning in your cooking. It’s also economical, as dried herbs last longer and retain their potency. The hanging bunches also look beautiful and bring an element of the outdoors inside.
In Ojai, we gathered rosemary, thyme, lavender, chamomile, sage, olive branches and bay leaf to preserve and use as decor at dinner. The process is wonderfully simple: harvest the stalks in mid-morning and remove any old or dead, wilted leaves. Strip the ends of the stems of additional leaves and flowers, and tie them together in bundles. Secure them with twine, rubber bands or twist-ties, which can be easily tightened as the stems shrink when they dry.
Hang the bunches in a place that is warm and dry, since humidity (like in the kitchen) complicates the process. Another tip: don’t expose the bunches to too much direct sun, because it could bleach them. In a couple days you’ll have fragrant, dehydrated herbs ready to brighten up your next meal. Enjoy! XXJKE
Photo: Lauren Ross
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