How to Create an Italian Seasoning Blend with Homegrown Herbs

Italian seasoning herb jar

If you’re a fan of Italian cuisine, chances are you always have a jar of Italian seasoning in your pantry. It adds that perfect touch of flavor to dishes like spaghetti, tomato soup, pizza, and homemade meatballs. It’s a versatile herb blend that works well in other savory dishes too.

But have you ever considered creating your own Italian seasoning blend using herbs from your garden? Not only does it give you complete control over the ingredients, but it also results in a fresher and more vibrant flavor. I’ve been crafting this blend for years, and it was one of the first homegrown seasoning blends I created for my kitchen. Here’s how to grow and create your own Italian seasoning blend through the art of herb crafting.

Fresh basil

The Essential Herbs for Italian Seasoning

One of the joys of gardening is being able to grow your own herbs for your kitchen. Not only does it save you money, but it also ensures that you have both a fresh and preserved supply of herbs whenever you need them. Most of the herbs used in Italian seasoning are relatively easy to grow, and you don’t need a large garden to do so.

The secret to a delicious Italian seasoning blend lies in the selection of herbs. While the traditional blend usually consists of basil, oregano, and parsley, feel free to experiment with other herbs to create your own unique flavor profile. Here are some herbs commonly used in Italian seasoning:

Basil:

Whether it’s Genovese or a similar variety, basil is a must-have herb for any Italian seasoning blend. Its aromatic and slightly sweet flavor adds a that familiar fresh Italian seasoning note.

Oregano:

When I smell oregano, I immediately think of pizza! Greek or Italian oregano, or a combination of both, brings a robust and earthy flavor to the blend. Adjust the amount based on your personal preference.

Marjoram:

Belonging to the mint and oregano family, marjoram adds a unique and almost floral taste to the blend. While its flavor resembles oregano, I find it to have a more sweet and delicate flavor. Use it sparingly so the sweetness doesn’t throw off the flavor balance of the other herbs.

Basket of oregano
Oregano is easy to grow and pairs perfectly with basil in Italian seasoning.
Parsley:

Flat-leaf parsley is often included for its bright and fresh flavor. It adds a touch of green and complements the other herbs beautifully.

Rosemary:

This is my favorite garden herb! Rosemary contributes a distinct pine-like aroma and flavor. It’s very powerful so try it sparingly at first as it can easily stand out over the other herbs. Then add more if you like.

Thyme:

Thyme comes in various varieties, but any type can be used in Italian seasoning. Lemon thyme is a great option if you want to add a citrusy twist to the blend.

Feel free to adjust the ratios of these herbs based on your personal taste preferences. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to all the herbs mentioned above; you can still create a delicious Italian seasoning blend with just a few key ingredients.

Parsley plants
Dried parsley doesn't maintain its flavor as strongly as the other herbs in this blend but it does complement them nicely.

Additional Flavor Boosters

In addition to the essential herbs, there are a few other ingredients you can add to your Italian seasoning blend to enhance its flavor:

Garlic:

Slice garlic cloves thinly and dehydrate them to use in your blend. You can add dried garlic to the mix in small pieces or as a powder for an extra burst of flavor.

Green Onion Powder:

If you grow spring onions, dry dehydrating the green tops to make onion powder. Try it out in your Italian seasoning blend for a slight oniony addition. See how I make green onion powder here.

Pepper Flakes:

If you like a bit of heat, consider dehydrating and blending some red peppers into flakes. These pepper flakes will add a spicy kick to your seasoning blend.

While salt can be added for texture and flavor, it’s not necessary. The herbs and spices themselves are usually sufficient to create a flavorful blend. Feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices that you enjoy or exclude any that you don’t have access to.

Dehydrating Your Herbs

To create a homemade Italian seasoning blend, you’ll need to dehydrate your freshly harvested herbs. Dehydration removes the moisture from the herbs, allowing them to be preserved for an extended period. Here are a few methods you can use to dehydrate your herbs:

Air Drying:

Tie small bundles of herbs together by their stems and hang them in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight. This traditional method may take a few days to a week, depending on the herb. I like to point a small fan at them to reduce the risk of moisture and mold.

Herb Drying Racks or Screens:

If you have herb drying racks or screens, you can spread the herbs out in a single layer and let them air dry. This method may be faster than hanging bundles.

Dehydrator:

Investing in a dehydrator can speed up the drying process significantly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times and temperatures. But one tip to remember is to dry herbs low and slow to retain their color and flavor.

Oven Drying:

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven on the lowest temperature setting. Keep a close eye on the herbs to prevent them from burning.

Once your herbs are crispy and crumble easily but still have their vibrant green color, they are ready to be used in your Italian seasoning blend.

Herbs on a dehydrator tray to make Italian seasoning
A dehydrator is one way you can dry and preserve homegrown herbs.

Creating Your Herb Blend

Now comes the fun part: creating your own unique Italian seasoning blend. Once you have your dried herbs, it’s time to combine them into your own customized seasoning blend. Here’s how:

  1. Strip the leaves from the stems and collect them in a bowl. You can separate each herb into labeled jars at first to know what you are working with.
  2. I like to start with equal parts basil and oregano in a large mixing bowl. These two herbs with their distinct flavors form the base of my blend. Add in the other herbs in smaller amounts, adjusting the ratios to your liking.
  3. Experiment with different combinations and ratios to find the flavor profile that suits your taste preferences. You can use a mortar and pestle, blender, food processor, or spice grinder to blend the herbs together. Avoid over-processing to retain the texture and flavor of the leaves.
  4. Taste the blend as you go and make adjustments if needed. Remember that dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh ones, so a little goes a long way.
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the blend, transfer it to small spice jars, mason jars, or recycled glass containers. Label the jars with the contents and the year if you want to keep track of the age of the herbs.

Storing and Using Your Herb Blend

Proper storage is essential to preserve the flavor and freshness of your homemade Italian seasoning blend. Here are a few tips:

Container Choice:

Choose airtight containers, such as spice jars or glass containers with tight-fitting lids, to prevent moisture and air from affecting the herbs. Mountain Rose Herbs has a great selection of spice jars and pantry jars. You can also repurposing jars from grocery store products. I do that all the time.

Labeling:

Label each container with the contents and the date of creation. This helps you keep track of the age of the herbs and ensures you reach for the right seasoning blend. My favorite labels for herbs and anything else I am preserving are hand designed and created by my friend Alison at CanningCrafts.com.  She has the best selection of herb and crafty labels with new designs coming out all the time.

Storage Conditions:

Store your herb blend in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help maintain the flavor and color of the herbs.

To use your homemade Italian seasoning blend, simply sprinkle it on pasta, pizza, roasted vegetables, or any dish that could benefit from a burst of these savory herbs. You can also use it as a rub for meats or mix it with olive oil to create a delicious marinade. All of my homemade vinaigrettes get a sprinkle of my Italian seasoning blend.

Jars of Italian Seasoning blend

Herb Crafting: A Creative Journey for Gardeners

Growing your own herbs, drying them, and crafting your own blends allows you to fully connect with the flavors and aromas of nature. It also gives you the opportunity to bet creative with your garden, experiment with the flavors you grow, and customize your blends to suit your personal taste preferences.

Italian seasoning blend is an easy blend to start with if you’re new to herb-crafting. Share your homemade blends with friends and family, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve created something truly unique and delicious.

If you’re an herb gardener too, I’d love to connect with you and learn about your favorite herbs to grow and use, as well as any unique seasoning blends you’ve created. Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

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Cultivating Nature's Wisdom

I’m a nature photographer and gardener sharing how I created an ecological garden in a small suburban backyard. I also share a few tips for growing and using herbs to craft your own homegrown spice blends.

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