Basil. A delicious, nutritious wonderful herb you can grow at home in a pot if you’ve got enough hours of sunlight! Basil is a great herb to use for cooking and can be used in many ways: tomato sauces, pizza, salads, to season fish and chicken…It is one of my favorite herbs and plants to grow and cook with in general. Today I want to share a great way to preserve basil for over a year: by drying it! You’ll learn how to dry basil naturally and in the oven without browning.
We’ll also take a look at how to best store and use your dried basil leaves.
Basil Benefits & FUN Facts
Did you know that the word basil comes from the Greek word for king “basileus“. Well, that would explain why I would do anything for a bunch of basil. Other than being a delicious culinary herb with unique flavor basil is also a medicinal plant and is used in dental products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. (source).
According to this summary, basil also has many impressive health benefits like:
- improved glucose homeostasis and lipid profiles in diabetics
- enhanced immune system
- improved memory and cognition
- reducing stress and anxiety
- improving oral and skin health
Traditionally basil has also been used to help with kidney problems, mentrual irregularities, arthritis and colds, to name a few. (source)
Reasons To Dry Basil
Drying is a simple and cheap way to preserve herbs for a really long time (a year, sometimes longer) and done right it helps preserve the aroma, the flavor and the nutrients that have many health benefits and make herbs a great flavorful addition to all types of dishes.
Here are a few more reasons to dry basil on your own:
- it is easy, it doesn’t take much time and it’s also kinda exciting because you’re learning something new. A skill that you can use and teach others
- drying basil is much cheaper and more effective than other preservation methods like freezing
- so much better than buying dried basil. You control what goes into your food, you can choose the method you do it and the yield is so much fresher than any product from the store
So if you’ve got a bunch of basil that you’d like to preserve over the fall and winter months, follow the steps below.
How To Dry Basil Leaves
I try to always mention this, but please keep in mind that you want to dry your basil, not just to prevent it from spoiling, but because you want to preserve and concentrate the benefitial nutrients and aromas in this plant. The goal is to remove the moisture from the herb, but keep all of the good stuff inside.
Before starting to dry your basil, wash it thoroughly, so that you get rid of any dirt or bugs that might have been on your plant. Once you’ve done that, pat the basil dry and proceed with the method of your choice.
As with any other herb or plant with larger leaves, use an herb drying rack or do like I did and just use a frame with a mosquito net attached to it. Pick the leaves and spread them out in single layer over the net. This is really important, as you want to let the air circulate from everywhere. This will allow for even drying of the herb and prevent mold and browning. In case you’d like to make your own herb drying rack, you can check out this tutorial.
I know many articles mention drying basil in bunches and while this would save space, it would not yield the best results. The reason for that is that the air cannot flow evenly to all leaves. In case you want to dry your basil in bunches, I recommend making really small bunches, so that even the leaves on the inside of the bunch are exposed to enough air.
Whichever one you choose, you want to keep the basil out of the sun in a dry room with good air circulation. This drying method would take a few weeks (between 2 and 4)
Drying in The Oven
If you have no time to waste, you can also dry basil in the oven. Place the clean leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set your oven to 40-50 C or 105-120 F or the lowest possible setting. Dry the basil for a few hours and flip throughout the process to make even drying possible. This could take less time if your oven’s lowest temperature is higher than 50C/120F. Set an alarm to check on your basil in an hour, hour and a half. Once fully dry, take out of the oven.
Similarly to the methods above, you can also dehydrate your basil using a food dehydrator. Spread the leaves in the dehydrator tray in a single layer and dry at the lowest possible setting, since the basil leaves are much thinner than other foods. This would take a few hours.
How To Store Dried Basil
Congratulations! Now you’re a proud owner of your own dried basil. It’s time to store it somewhere. Find a dry and dark place for this task. I recommend using a glass jar or any type of glass container with a lid that you have available. Now, you can crumble the basil leaves before or while you’re placing them into the jar, but I actually almost always leave them whole in the jar. This way the smell and flavor will stay longer and will be better. When it’s time to cook – take a few leaves out, crumble between your fingers, the aroma will come out and it’s done!
How long does dried basil last
Storing your dried basil like this will allow it to stay good for at least an year, maybe even two.
How To Use Dried Basil For Cooking
You can use dried basil to season meat, fish, lentils, chickpeas – pretty much anything. It’s a great addition to soups, pasta, rice dishes and of course – tomato sauces.
How To Use Dried Basil For Tea
Another way to use basil for more than cooking is to add it to herbal tea. If you’ve been drying and collecting other herbs and plants you can experiment and easily make your own herbal blend. Place a tbsp of the blend into a tea infuser and add it to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 5-6 minutes, add some honey if you desire and enjoy!
I hope you learned something new and found this article helpful!
- bunch of basil
- Wash and pat dry your basil.
- Spread the leaves evenly and in a single layer in a herb drying rack in a place with good air circulation, out of the sun.
- Allow the leaves to dry for a few weeks.
- Place the whole leaves in an airtight glass container in a dark and dry place. Crumble when you're going to use them in your dishes.
- Your dried basil will stay good like this for a year or more.
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 9Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 2mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 1g