The herb basil has a unique flavor many cooks find essential. Some find that the flavor is best when basil is used fresh from the garden, while others like the less intense flavor of dried basil. Drying basil, however, allows the flavor to last and last, even if it’s just a little less powerful in your dishes.
How To Dry Basil From Your Garden
Drying basil is a simple process, but there are three different approaches: My favorites involve air drying, but you can also oven dry your basil. I, personally, don’t like to use the oven for two reasons: One, I think that the oven dries out the flavorful oil of basil leaves too much, and really weakens the intense flavor. Two, it’s possible to burn the tender basil leaves and render them unusable and destined for the mulch pile! It’s all a matter of personal preference, so try all these methods and let us know which one you like best!
Learn more: How To Grow Basil From Seed
How To Air Dry Basil
Drying basil is simple enough. Just clip off the basil stems and shake the basil to remove the dirt. Then, rinse the bunch of basil under cool running water to remove dirt and insects, paying close attention to the undersides of the leaves. Shake off as much water as you can, and allow the basil leaves to dry thoroughly before proceeding with the next step.
Method One – Hanging the basil: Once the basil leaves are dry, tie a few of the the cut bunches by the stems, with either a string or a twist tie, and hang the bundles in an undisturbed area, out of direct sunlight but with good air flow. I never hang herbs to dry in a stuffy area, as I don’t want any possibly musty air around my drying herbs.
Method Two – Avoiding Color Loss: Try this method if you want to avoid grey leaves, since basil leaves can lose color while drying. After gathering the bundles, and tying them up as described in method one, wrap each bundle in plain kraft or parchment paper. Some use newspaper to wrap drying basil, but I shy away from allowing newsprint so close to my food. What you do is to lay a thin layer of basil between two pieces of one of these papers, and place it on an out of the way shelf, with no direct light. Turn the bundle over a few times until the basil is thoroughly dried out.
Note: You’ll know when the leaves are dry because they will be very crispy. Separate the brittle basil leaves from the stems and, either leave them intact or crunch them into small pieces. Put the dried basil leaves in an airtight container, and enjoy your homegrown basil for months of savory meals.
Basil can be grown outside, inside, in containers, etc. If you want to get started with a small garden we recommend you read:
How To Oven Dry Basil
To oven dry basil, remove all the leaves from the plant’s stems after you’ve rinsed them. Make sure that you remove the leaves with your hands, not metallic knives or scissors, and rip the leaves into small pieces. Lay the shreds of basil on an oven cooking sheet, and set the oven to maintain an even temperature of between 325 and 350 degrees. Ovens vary for several reasons, humidity in the air being one, but basil should dry anywhere from 4 hours to 10 hours. Maintain a regular check to watch for dryness. The hazard here is burning the essential oils in basil, if that happens, you might as well throw it away – the basil is ruined.
Learn more: Companion Plants For Basil
Drying Basil for Fun and Profit
Basil is easy to dry, whether you air dry or oven dry, but keeping a pot of it growing in a kitchen window means that you’ll always have fresh basil available. When the season wanes, you can dry the rest of your basil crop for wintertime enjoyment. Don’t miss out on basil’s taste – your family will thank you!
What’s your favorite basil recipe?
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