We planted a moderately sized raised bed herb garden this year and our plants are growing like crazy! I’ve been playing with drying herbs and have been researching ways to dry various herbs and found a few different ways of doing it.
Air Drying Basil
I haven’t tried this method because I don’t really have anywhere to hang basil as it needs to be. But here’s how to do it and here is what you need to do it:
- Fresh Basil from your garden
- A piece of String, yarn or thread
Wash the basil leaves carefully using water only keeping stems on. Tie together the bunches with the string, yarn or thread, making sure to tie them tight as you don’t want any of the stems in the bunch to fall down when they start to dry and shrink.
Hang it in a dry place out of direct sunlight.
You will know they are ready when the leaves easily break. If not, give it another week. Very simple.
Oven drying Basil
What you will need:
- basil from your garden
- Kitchen sheers (herb scissors)
- Aluminum foil or parchment paper
- A cookie sheet
- Paper towels
- Wash and dry your stems with water only. Drying by blotting between two paper towels.
- Take out discolored leaves and woody stems.
- Preheat your oven to the lowest . (150-180)
- Spread whole leaves out on chosen surface making sure that the leaves to do not overlap or fold over themselves.
You can do the next step one of two ways.
- You can bake your leaves for 20 minutes in the oven, turn off the heat and leave in oven for 24 hours (I used this method) OR
- Place in oven on top rack for 2 to 4 hours or until basil crumbles easily between your fingers.
- Gather in middle of parchment paper or foil and crumble with your fingers.
- Store in a glass jar in a cool dark place
I recently dried Basil using the second method and it came out pretty good.
Microwave Drying Basil
From my research, I have learned that microwave drying of basil is easier on the basil leaves than oven drying of the leaves. It is easier on the leaf tissue because the water in the her leaves absorbs more of the energy than the plant tissue does. The water inside the leaves gets hot and evaporates, drying the plant tissue.
What you will need to do this:
- Basil leaves with stems removed
- Paper towels
- Wash basil bunches in cool water.
- remove all the leaves dividing up by size (this is important later)
- Blot between two paper towels to dry…make sure all the excess water is removed; otherwise, they will cook, not dry in the microwave.
- Arrange leaves of similar size on a paper towel on your microwave carousel .
- Start on with 1 minute on high setting and check the leaves. If they do not crumble easily add another 30 seconds checking each time for ease of crumbling.
I recently dried Cinnamon Basil this way and I found that larger Basil leaves were perfect at 2 minutes and crumbled easily. Around 1.5 minutes was good for moderately sized leaves and less for smaller leaves. Judge for yourself in 30 second increments.
After drying I gathered each batch of leaves to the center of the paper towel and crumbled with my fingers. I used a funnel to put them into a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid.
With this method the leaves seem to retain their color and delightful aroma.
I hope you will give this a try and let me know how it worked for you!