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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Using the Stems From My Dried Garden Herbs

a quart of oregano stock
If you grow and dry your own herbs, you may be like me and think that the twiggy/woody stems might be useful for more than just compost additive. 

This past week I harvested more sage and oregano, cutting stems with leaves on. After washing the herbs, I dried them in the dehydrator. Once fully dried, I removed the leaves from the stems and store them in airtight containers. Remaining is a pile of twiggy or woody herb stems. 

Not wanting to waste even one little bit, I made a broth with each batch of herb stems. In one saucepan I placed the stems from the dried oregano and into another saucepan I placed the stems of the dried sage. I added about a quart of water to each pot and brought them to a boil. I simmered the herbs, covered, for about 2 hours, then strained and refrigerated the resulting stocks to use in cooking later during week.

sage stock to use in chicken and dumplings
The oregano stock is very mild and added a nice flavor to an Italian vegetable and lentil soup. The sage stock was more highly flavored. It was used as the liquid in a pot of chicken and dumplings.

Using the stems from my dried herbs helps stretch my winter herb supply. I use a lot of both oregano and sage in winter cooking, often depleting my supply before spring growth begins again. Anything I can do to maximize what I grow is a savings, as it reduces the chance I'll need to buy commercial herbs come April or May. I still compost my herb stems. I just now do that after I make stock with them.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Frugal,
      I was pleased with the flavor of the herb stocks. It wasn't overpowering, just a nice flavor addition to soups and stews. Glad you liked the idea!

  2. I have done that with my dill stems. when I use my chicken bones. I have quite a few chicken carcasses at the moment in my freezer but I thought the same thing this week that I could use the stems to produce broth by themselves.

    1. Thank you, Teresa, for mentioning dill stems! Since I use dill almost exclusively fresh (and only in the months it actually grows in my garden), I completely forgot about using dill stems for stock. I'll cut some of the remaining stalks and flower heads to make stock for Middle Eastern rice dishes! I'll also try adding some to chicken bones as you have done. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I like this idea! I like to add clumpy herbs like that to a tea infuser in my soups. Makes it easier to get them out.

    1. Hi Kris,
      A tea infuser is a brilliant idea! I've sometimes tied herbs/spices in a piece of cheesecloth to get them out easier, but I think a tea ball would be easier to clean. Thank you!


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