Earlier this Spring I planted two basil plants in my herb garden, one Cinnamon Basil, and one Sweet Basil. They have been doing remarkably well this summer, and because I used plastic mulch around them have not been smothered by weeds, unlike my flowers
I had plans for my Basil, but summer happened and I forgot about them, only running out to the garden occasionally to pick a few leaves as needed for different dishes I was making. But just this week it happened, I walked by my herb garden and BAM! My Cinnamon basil was in bloom.
Basil is still good after it has bloomed, but the flowers send a signal to the rest of the plant that it’s life cycle is near the end, time to make seeds and call it a day…
I pinched off the flowers on my cinnamon basil plant and the buds on my sweet basil plant that had not yet started flowering. Isn’t it pretty?
I decided to cut my losses and harvest a good majority of my cinnamon basil. Because I was not really prepared to make something with my basil right then, I figured my best bet was drying it. Drying herbs of all kinds seem to be the best method of storage I have tried. They take up relatively little space and are easy to use once dry, it can also be a money saver at the grocery store, quality dried herbs can fetch a pretty penny. Oh, and it is easy, like crazy easy to dry herbs, trust me. No degree in food science needed! But a dehydrator is super helpful. I tried a few times with varying degrees of success in the oven. After a couple of inconsistent tries at dehydrating in my oven last year, I ordered my Nesco 600-Watt Food Dehydrator from Amazon, and have been very happy with it. It is worth the $60 if you really want to dehydrate foods.
Drying Fresh Basil
So anyway, If you want to try here is how to dry basil:
- Harvest your basil, mid-morning is best, evening works too, just avoid harvesting in the hot midday sun.
- Rinse your basil. Trust me, don’t skip this step. I thought mine were clean and found a small worm and couple of bugs in my rinse water. I prefer a large bowl of cold water to rinse, gently swirl the herbs in the bowl to remove dirt and bugs.
- Blot basil dry with paper towel. Then lay the leaves on a paper towel, a single layer without allowing leaves to overlap. Cover with another towel and another layer of leaves, to absorb any water in the creases of the leaves.
- 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. I cut my larger leaves in half on the stem to help with the drying process.
- Set your dehydrator to the setting indicated by the manufacturer of your dehydrator for herbs, mine was 90°F.
- Wait until the basil is dry, you will know when it snaps and crumbles easily. The stems should feel brittle and break when bent.
- Pack dried basil into an airtight container. I like glass, Ball jars work great for this. Because I know I will not be using my basil right away I sealed mine up with a Foodsaver attachment that vacuum seals glass jars. The FoodSaver Jar Sealer fits on pint- and quart-sized Mason jars and is for use with any FoodSaver machine that has an accessory port. Also, a good investment if you are interested in preserving foods you have harvested.
- I am going to state the obvious here because just a little while ago I skipped this step in my own kitchen, and you would be surprised how much Homemade Sazon looks like Taco seasoning, anyway save yourself some frustration later and slap a label on that jar. Here is an adorable set of free PRINTABLE VINTAGE HERB AND SPICE BOTTLE LABEL from Lia Griffith – handcraft your life.