One staple in our garden every summer is Sweet Basil. I have gotten to the point where my basil self seeds every year and is little work to maintain. We usually have 5-10 large basil plants growing at any one time. This creates an abundance of basil that needs to be preserved for winter use. To make preserving quick and easy, I like drying basil from the garden in one of my two dehydrators.
Basil is such a versatile herb. I use it almost daily in recipes from Pizza to Roasted Potatoes. Purchasing dried herbs at the grocery store can be expensive, which I find odd since growing most of them is so easy. They almost all require little maintenance once established.
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How to Prepare Your Basil for Drying
The first step for drying basil from the garden is to gently pull the leaves off the stem and place them into a colander. Fresh garden basil tends to bruise quite easily and will turn brown, so be gentle as you handle it.
Once your basil leaves are separated, you will need to gently rinse them under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Prepare Your Dehydrator Trays for Drying Basil
Now that you have your basil prepped and ready to dry. You will need to line your dehydrator trays with screen liners or parchment paper. Basil tends to become very brittle when dry so using a liner will help to catch small pieces that crumble off in the dehydrator.
Place your basil leaves on your trays. Make sure to leave enough room for air to circulate around each leaf to ensure even drying.
Place Trays in Dehydrator
As each tray is filled with basil leaves, place the trays in the dehydrator. Once your dehydrator is full, you will need to set the temperature and the time.
When drying basil from the garden or any herbs in general, you will want to make sure you do so at a low setting. Herbs are delicate and can easily burn or discolor in high heat. By dehydrating herbs at a low setting, you also preserve more flavor, oils and health benefits that they have to offer.
For most herbs, I like to set the dehydrator to 95° F. Since every dehydrator is different when it comes to timing, I like to start a timer for 14 hours, then check for doneness. Basil should easily crumble between your fingers when it is completely dry. If it is still pliable, turn your dehydrator back on and check on it every couple hours.
Dehydrating Basil Video
I made a simple & quick video so you can see my process for drying basil from the garden. It is a great way to presvere the harvest for year-round use.
One of my other favorite ways to preserve basil is by making freezable dairy-free pesto. It is so simple to make with just a few ingredients and it freezes perfectly. You can find the recipe here: Basilhttp://www.yardibles.com/vegan-pesto-recipe/
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