Who is not well aware of the multiple health benefits of the holy herb basil? It is packed with antioxidants that are renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties and fighting cancer.
The plant’s leaves make great seasoning and are the main ingredient of pesto sauce and are used fresh in salads, soups, and many other recipes.
Many of us have our own comfort gardens if not large but handy. Herbs like basil, mint, parsley, lemon grass, coriander can be easily grown in the kitchen garden as well.
The challenge is to dry and preserve them so that they can be used throughout the year.
The method to freeze the herbs isn’t much effective as they will turn moldy and will be bereft of nutrition. The best way to store them is dehydration so that it retains its properties along with taste.
Different Methods of Preserving and Drying Basil Leaves at Home
Drying in Microwave Oven
One of the best ways for drying the basil leaves is the microwave oven can also be used to dry herbs like basil. Ideally, herbs should be dried at about 95°F (35°C). Microwaved basil looks fresh and green in color for the most part.
- Wash basil and remove leaves from stems.
- Dry well. A salad spinner is handy for drying the leaves or gently pat dry with a towel. See that they are clean of moisture or you’ll get brown spots.
- Place basil in a single layer between two pieces of paper towel.
Put inside the microwave for 30 seconds at medium to high power. Since the mode of heating various microwaves is not identical, lower power and heat for shorter time periods for best results. If you’re not sure of the heating adjustments of your microwave do a small batch to test results.
- Take herbs out of the microwave and allow to cool for 30 seconds, then test to see if any are dry and brittle. Remove those that are dry, return them the microwave for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all leaves are dry.
- Cool the basil for an hour and store in a paper bag or glass container. This cools the basils thoroughly and avoids moisture build up in the storage container, hence one of the best preservings
- Keep basil leaves as big as you can to retain maximum flavor and enhance the taste of the dish.
Drying in a Dehydrator
- Lay the basil out on the dehydrator racks, leaving space between them for the air to circulate, and only one leaf thick on each rack. It is better to cut larger leaves in half on the stem to help quicken the drying process.
- Set your dehydrator to the setting as guided by the manufacturer or else use the manual.
- Wait until the basil is dry, you will know When it crumbles easily, you will know that your basil is dry. The stems when brittle and break when bent, is an indication of best dehydration.
- Store dried basil into an airtight container like glass.
- When you are ready to use the basil in a recipe, crush the basil leaves between your hands. Enjoy that burst of fragrance as the basil drifts down into the dish you are preparing. It’s …
Dry in Air
When there is sufficient sunlight and air available, air drying is an alternative and cost-effective method.
- Tie 5-10 branches of basil together with string or a rubber band. Make smaller bundles, so that they will dry easier and faster.
- Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up, in a paper bag. Poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
- Hang the bag by the stem end In a warm, well-ventilated room.
- It will be ready storage in a week.
Dry in Oven
- Place the herb leaves on a cookie sheet which should be up to 1 inch deep but not more.
- An open oven on low heat is where you have to put the leaves. The temperature should be less than 180 degrees F.
- It has to be dried for 2 to 4 hours. When the leaves crumble easily, you can be sure that the leaves are completely dehydrated.
Oven dried leaves might lose some of its strong flavors. You can still make the most flavorful of the dishes by being generous with the herbs.
Dry It In Sun
- Basil has to be picked, rinsed and pat dried with a paper towel.
- In a sunlit area keep an old window screen or a clean piece of cloth. You can also place a table to complete the arrangement. Use rocks to weight down the edges.
- Pluck the basil leaves Spread the basil leaves out after plucking them from the stems. This is important so that every leaf gets the rays of the sun.
- Keep moving the leaves around so that receive get more sunlight.
- Choose a weather condition where the sunlight will be prolonged and continuous. You can consult the weather prediction applications.
The conversion to dry basil isn’t that difficult, is it? The new avatar of the garden fresh dry basil is ready to use and is no less equal! So go ahead and heal your palate.