Basil is a sweet delicious herb that goes with almost any dish. Unfortunately, it only grows well in the summer season.
So today I want to show you how to dry basil so you can enjoy this amazing herb all year long!
What Is Basil?
Also known as Ocimum basilicum, basil is an aromatic herb from the mint family. It’s grown for its strong and fresh mint, pepper and anise flavor. It has smooth, shiny green leaves. It also has a sweet fragrant smell and peppery taste. Most common types are;
- Thai basil
- Italian basil
- Sweet basil
- Lettuce basil
- Holy basil
Basil works well in salads. And it’s also a great addition to dishes like pasta, fish, meat sauces etc.
The Difference Between Fresh and Dry Basil
Dry basil has a stronger flavor. It’s more minty and spicy than fresh basil. This is because it has no water content, it’s dehydrated.
Also, some oils are lost during the drying process, hence the stronger flavor.
Fresh basil, on the other hand, has a mild sweet aroma of mint, anise and pepper.
Dry basil is crumbly and crisp while fresh basil has a shimmery smooth look.
Fresh basil is ideal for easy raw recipes like salads. The fresh green leaves add a punch of flavor to otherwise boring salads.
Dry basil is perfect as a seasoning on pizza, pasta, when cooking soups, stew or making sauces…like my personal favorite, pesto!
Fun Facts About Basil You Need to Know Before Drying It
- Its leaves are very delicate. So make sure you handle them with a lot of care.
- Some leaves may discolor after drying.
- Fresh basil has high oil content. This may slow down the drying process a bit. So ensure your basil gets enough air circulation on each side of the leaves, especially if you are air drying it.
- Any moisture left on basil causes brown spots. So after washing it, pat your basil dry to avoid this. Your basil will also dry faster, hence preventing molding.
How to Dry Basil in a Microwave
This method will work faster if you have few basil leaves to dry.
Basil leaves contain loads of oil. Making them slow to dry & if you’re not careful, they can easily turn dark and scorch.
A microwave is perfect for drying your basil with little to no damage. And the best part is – you get more consistent results.
Carefully lay the leaves on a paper towel.
Put them in the microwave on low heat for 1-2 minutes. It’s best if you test a small batch first and see how long it takes to dry.
Don’t forget to check on them and remove those which have already dried so they don’t get burnt.
Let your basil rest and cool off for at least 1 hr before storing it. This will prevent moisture from building up which later leads to molding.
How to Dry Basil Leaves in The Oven
To dehydrate basil in the oven, simply pluck off the leaves from the stem. Then wash clean and dry them with a towel.
Preheat your oven at the lowest temperature.
Place the basil leaves on a baking sheet. Make sure you don’t pile them on one another, carefully separate them.
Bake them for 45 mins to an hour and remove them. They should be crumbly and completely dry but not burnt.
Crumble the leaves if you want to or keep them whole.
There’s a belief that if you keep them whole and crumble only what you’re going to use as you cook, the dried basil leaves release more flavor.
Store the leaves in an airtight container or spice jar.
What Temperature Do You Dry Basil if You Use an Oven?
It’s best to you bake basil at the lowest temperature setting, which for most ovens, is 170 degrees.
How to Dry Basil in a Dehydrator
This method is ideal if you have loads of basil to dry. You can dry all of it at once.
Simply lay each leaf in a single layer on the racks & leave them to dry in the machine.
Remove them when they are ready – crisp and fully dry.
How to Air Dry Basil
Cut from around 5-6 inches of your basil and tie them together in small bundles.
Get a paper bag and punch small holes in it.
Place a paper bag around the bundles and hang them in a dark room for drying.
Make sure the room has warm temperatures and low humidity.
Once the leaves are all completely dry, pluck off the leaves, then throw away the stems and flowers.
Store them in an airtight container.
How to Preserve and Store Dried Basil
Unlike fresh basil that’s not long lasting, dried basil can be kept for at least 6 months if it’s properly stored.
Keep your dry fresh basil leaves away from heat and excess light to prevent it from losing flavor.
Store it in a dry and airtight container and lock it away in a cool, dry place like the pantry where there’s no light.
For more tips, check out my guide to storing dried herbs.
Dried Basil Uses
If you’re wondering how you can use basil in your home, here’s some inspiration:
- Add flavor to your dishes with basil. It’s perfect for pizza sauce, pesto, pasta. It’s also a delicious seasoning for salad.
- How about Basil herbal tea? Not only is it sweet, but it’s also good for your health. You can use it alone or with other herbs like ginger. If you’re feeling under the weather, toss some basil leaves in a cup, add hot water & drink. You’ll feel much better and more refreshed.
- It’s packed full of nutrients such as Magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, copper, omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin (A,C,K). All these are vital for your overall health.
- Basil is also a natural remedy for common illnesses such as cough, cold, stomach discomfort, headaches, ear infections.
- Wind down after a rough day with basil inspired recipes. Basil helps alleviate stress. You’ll feel much better and more relaxed after a cup of hot basil tea, pesto, or tomato basil salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Wash Basil Before Drying?
Yes, wash your basil to get rid of germs, dirt and any insects that could be hiding under the leaves. Don’t forget to dry it with a towel or let it dry overnight before dehydrating.
How Long Does Dried Basil Last?
Dried basil should last 2-3 years if kept in good conditions. However, if you notice your basil changing color, that’s a sign that it’s expired. Throw it away.
How Do I Store Basil?
Store your dry basil in an airtight container. And don’t forget to keep it in a room free of light and heat.
The truth is fresh herbs are usually better. But when it comes to basil, dried basil can really come in handy, especially when you can’t access the fresh leaves in winter.
And if you want to spice up your sauces, or add more flavor to your seasonings, dried basil will do the trick just fine.
To dry your basil at home, you can use a microwave, oven, a dehydrator or even air dry it. I’ve even heard of people having success with an air fryer!
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite method of drying basil is!
I’m a foodie that’s slightly obsessed with drying fruits, veggies, beans, and more – especially from my own garden! It started as a hobby but became a “must” when my family fell on hard times, and my dried food stash sustained us. Now I’m always experimenting with different techniques and recipes and sharing them here!