Dry Basil can be a tasty addition to many dishes, so you might want to have some available and ready to use the whole year. Summer can give you huge yields, but as winter approaches, the leaves start to die off. What to do, then?
Harvest some fresh leaves and dry them! There are many ways you can do it, but the easiest ones are doing it in the microwave, the oven, or the traditional way. Each one of these methods takes a bit longer than the first, but all give excellent results.
To dry basil, you just have to wash the leaves, lay them out on a cookie sheet or tie the stems into a bundle, and either heats them up or let them air dry.
Whichever technique you choose, here you’ll find a step-by-step guide and some tips to obtain the best (and most delicious!) results.
Let’s get started!
Drying basil in the microwave is the fastest method to preserve your freshly harvested leaves. It’s a very simple process that preserves most of the original flavor, but it has the drawback of not allowing you to do large batches.
So, if you only require a small amount of dried basil quickly, this is a great technique to get it. You just need a microwave, obviously, and some paper towels.
Preparing the basil for the microwave is pretty similar to what you’d do if you planned to bake them in the oven:
Since each microwave is different, you might need to experiment a bit to find the right time and power setting before you can get it just right. However, here are some general guidelines you can follow:
As you can see, you just need a few minutes to dry your basil leaves. However, there are some things you should keep in mind:
There are two ways of drying basil in the oven. Both are fairly simple and easy methods, but one takes only a few hours while the other can take up to a day, and both require that you keep a close eye on the oven to avoid burning them.
You’re going to need an oven, a flat baking sheet or roasting pan, and parchment paper.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, here is what you should do:
As with anything you want to preserve, freshly harvested leaves should be prepared before they can be dried to remove any dirt and bugs.
Once your basil is ready and your oven preheated, it’s time to start drying the leaves.
No matter the method you choose, the key is to remove the moisture of the basil leaves without burning them. To achieve this, you need to ensure that the temperature of the oven is not too high.
If you aren’t in a rush and prefer drying basil the traditional way, you’ll just need some twine or a few rubber bands and patience! Air drying basil can take between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on several factors, such as weather conditions and the temperature and ventilation of the room you hang the bundles in.
If you’re ready, this is what you should do:
You’ll know when the basil is completely dry because the leaves will break rather than bend. As we’ve mentioned before, air drying basil takes a while, but it produces the most delicious results.
Once your basil is completely dry, it’s time to store it. Just like with any other herbs and spices, you should keep your basil leaves in a small, airtight glass container away from sunlight.
After some years of drying basil leaves, we’ve learned that they retain their flavor and aromatic compounds longer if the leaves are stored whole. Because of this, we prefer crushing them only when we’re going to sprinkle them on top of a dish.
If you can, follow our advice and store whole leaves because trust us, it’s completely worth it.
Under proper storage conditions, dried basil should stay crunchy and delicious for about a year. We suggest labeling the jar so you can keep track of how old your leaves are.
Basil is already an incredibly versatile herb, but drying some (or several!) leaves can give you even more options, especially when fresh ones aren’t readily available.
Dehydrating basil is one of the easiest ways to preserve it, and the best part is that you don’t need any fancy appliances to do it. You can either microwave them, bake them in the oven, or let them air dry.
To help you in this, we’ve provided a complete guide and some great tips so that you can make some delicious homemade dry basil after your summer harvest! Be sure to also check out our full guide on Drying Food!
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