In this article, we will look at different and easy ways on how to dry basil at home.
Have you ever thought about planting basil in your garden? If not, you may want to if you love the herb. Not only is it excellent in sauces (pesto anyone?), sandwiches, salads, and other dishes, but it also gives excellent yields in sunny warm weather. I usually have so much basil I can dry, freeze, and make pesto for the year. It’s a prolific grower and comes in so many varieties like Genovese, Thai, Sweet, Purple, and more.
To top it off this super tasty herb has some wonderful benefits. It’s packed with vitamin K and manganese (source)
However, as versatile as the herb is, and you can use its fresh leaves all summer, it does not last. The leaves begin to die as soon as the temperature starts dropping. This is because basil in most climates is a perennial. If you want to keep growing basil year-round. The checkout growing hydroponic basil.
Dried spices and herbs, including basil, tend to last much longer than fresh ones. The reason is that there is no moisture left to cause molds or bacteria to grow.
Also, provided you preserve them correctly, you can use them all year round! Therefore, preserve basil for longer by drying it yourself.
Steps On How To Dry Basil Leaves
To dry basil, you need a method that permits air circulation around the leaves, not just on one side. Here are steps to take for the best results:
Step 1: Harvesting Basil
The time you harvest basil affects how well it dries. Typically, you should harvest it just after the morning dew has dried from its leaves. You don’t want to cut it while it is laden with moisture; it makes the drying process longer and more complex.
Also, avoid cutting basil when the weather is too hot. Cut its stem back a quarter-inch above the growth node. This method allows the flushing of more leaves at the point where you cut them.
And be sure to harvest as many basil leaves as possible, more than you believe you will need. When the leaves dry, they will shrink and leave you with about half or a third of what you harvested.
Step 2: Drying the Basil
After harvesting the basil, the next step is to dry it. But before you proceed, wash the basil thoroughly. Get an appropriate-sized container and put the basil, both stem and leaves, into it. You can also use the kitchen sink but ensure it is clean.
Add some water to the container or sink and allow the basil to soak for a couple of minutes. The purpose is to remove dirt as much as to remove bugs and other insects from the garden. Move the basil around to loosen stuck dirt and rinse for good effect. You can inspect the leaves and remove unhealthy ones while washing them.
Dry the basil using any of the following three methods:
- Hang and dry
- Food dehydrator
Drying Basil – Hang and Dry Method
I’m personally a fan of drying basil naturally. And one of the easiest way to do that is by han
To use the hang and dry method:
- Start by cutting basil stems to be about six inches long
- Tie the stems together to make small bundles, then hang the bundles
- Cover the bundles with a bag; a paper bag will do the job
The bag is to catch falling dried basil leaves but poke holes in the bag for air circulation or slits down the sides.
Don’t hang them in just about any room; the room where you hang them must be either dark or lit dimly. It must also be warm and have low humidity. Use a dehumidifier for the room if it does not have the proper humidity, and use a heater to create warmth.
Drying Basil – Microwave Method
Your microwave can come in handy to dry and preserve basil. Lay paper towels inside the microwave to form a bed for the basil.
Then, cut the leaves from the stem and lay them on top of the paper towels. Make sure each leaf lies alone; don’t create layers. Otherwise, some will dry crisply while others won’t.
It is the fastest method to use, but it can also be the most damaging to basil. The reason is that it can dry the leaves faster than you expect and end up burning them. Therefore, keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.
Drying Basil – The Food Dehydrator Method
Much like the microwave method, place basil leaves inside the dehydrator without forming layers. But you don’t have to use paper towels to create a bed; place the leaves on the racks inside the dehydrator. Then, give them time to dry until they are crisp, but monitor them throughout the process.
This is an easy method an ensures that your basil will gently dry out and perseve flavor and nutrients.
Step 3: Storing the Dried Basil
Have you ever wondered how long does dry basil lasts? Well, it depends…
How you store dried basil will determine how long it lasts. Dried basil does not last forever; eventually, it will lose its taste and flavor. But if stored correctly it can easily last up to 2.
The key to it lasting this long is to store dried basil where there is no strong and steady stream of light, like a cupboard or at the back of the pantry. Bring it out only when you need it and put it away from light afterward.
Similar to light, your dried basil needs to stay away from heat as well.
Also, store it in an airtight and dry container. The scent and flavor will dissipate over time if air keeps getting into the storage container.
Of course, moisture will ruin the leaves, so it goes without saying to keep them away from water.
Just to recap on how to store your dried basil:
- Keep your dried basil away from light. Opt for a dark cabinent or pantry.
- Use an airtight container to hold you basil.
- Place you basil somewhere that doesn’t get hot or arm. Watch out for those vents during the winter.
- Make sure moister stays away from your dried basil.
Drying or Freezing Basil: Which Is Better?
To preserve basil past the summer months and use it all year round, you can dry or freeze it. But you may want to know that drying removes some of that spicy basil flavor we all love. The taste and flavor reduce as the moisture in the leaves evaporates.
Freezing, on the other hand, preserves most of the flavor. If your reason for drying basil is to maintain the taste and flavor, as well as have a steady supply, you may want to consider freezing.
Remember the perks of drying basil are that if stored properly it can last 2 years. While freezing takes up space and can obtain freezer burn if not stored properly.
Dried herbs and spices tend to last longer, and basil is no exception. Fortunately, there are a few options for drying the herb, and all are easy methods.
You can choose to microwave the leaves until they are crisp, dry them in a food dehydrator, or hang them to drip and dry. Whichever method you choose, you get to enjoy the herb every day of the year. So, here’s to learning how to dry basil!