How To Harvest and Dry Basil
Basil is a great herb to grow that can be harvested throughout the summer growing season. Here are step by step instructions to harvesting, and drying, basil.
After an inauspicious beginning, my basil started to take off and really grow! Basil is an excellent herb to use in pasta, tomato and salad dishes. Sonny-boy grabbed some for pesto, and Hubby used fresh in a zucchini stuffed zucchini recipe that was absolutely delicious. While I have clipped any flowering action at the top of each leave-area that began when the basil started to bolt, I knew I wanted to allow my plants to grow so I would have a healthy harvest to dry all at once.
• I went out to gather a large quantity of basil one day a few weeks ago.
• I bent back the stems to look for a tri-area to clip just above.
• If there were new leaves started on the shoots, so much the better.
• I clipped as close to the bottom of that tri as possible (closer than the pic! Clipping and photographing when you are too lazy to set up a tripod isn’t a lot of fun.)
• I gathered a good quantity of fresh basil.
• Wash your basil thoroughly.
• Remove the stems, and wash again. You want to make sure all the dirt and any bugs are removed.
• I spin mine in a salad spinner to remove excess water and for faster drying.
• I have two convection ovens with a drying setting, and that is what these drying instructions are for:
• After spinning to dry, I laid out on some racks and preheated my ovens to the dry setting of 125°.
• That is parchement paper on those racks. Some have suggested using it to keep the color of the basil true. I honestly haven’t seen a big difference between direct metal and parchment paper on drying basil. I did larger leaves directly on metal sheets this round to compare (I had 6 sheets in all, 3 trays per oven).
• Basil takes a while to dry depending on how large your leaves are: 3-6 hours.
• You know your basil is dry when you can crumble it between your fingers.
• When your basil is dry, you can crumble between your fingers to crush the entire amount, or use a mortar and pestle.
• Pick out any leaves that do not crumble readily, and continue to dry them. You don’t want to store half-damp leaves.
I expect to do this several more times before the gardening season is over. I have four surviving, and flourishing plants, and that will give is more than enough basil for the year.
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