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Drying fresh basil from your garden in a dehydrator

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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.
How to dehydrate basil- Home in the Finger LakesBasil 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?

How to dehydrate basil- Home in the Finger Lakes

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.

How to dehydrate basil- Home in the Finger Lakes

Drying Fresh Basil

So anyway, If you want to try here is how to dry basil:

    1. Harvest your basil, mid-morning is best, evening works too, just avoid harvesting in the hot midday sun.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Set your dehydrator to the setting indicated by the manufacturer of your dehydrator for herbs, mine was 90°F.
    6. Wait until the basil is dry, you will know when it snaps and crumbles easily. The stems should feel brittle and break when bent.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

Drying fresh basil from your garden in a dehydrator- Home in the Finger Lakes




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