Drying basil is quick and easy, and there are so many wonderful uses for it. In this post, I’ll show you five of the best ways to do it, with step by step instructions for each.
If you want to enjoy your homegrown basil for many months, drying it is the perfect choice. You can use it to fill up your spice rack, and to add to countless recipes.
In this article I am going to show you how to dry basil using 5 simple methods that you can do right at home.
Try a couple of them and see which one works best for you. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll always have some on hand.
Preparing Fresh Basil For Drying
Preparing your basil leaves or stems for drying is simple. Most of the time you don’t even have to worry about washing it first.
However, if it’s dirty from the garden, give it a quick rinse and pat or spin-dry it to prevent issues with mold.
How To Dry Basil
There are several techniques you can use to dry basil. The one you choose will depend mostly on personal preference, and which one works best for you.
1. Hanging Basil To Dry
Hanging is the method that takes the longest. If you live in a low humidity environment and have a lot of stems, it could be a great option for you.
Just make sure to have patience since it can take up to 4 weeks before it’s ready.
Here are the hang-drying steps:
- Gather several stems together to create a bunch, like you’re making a bouquet.
- Tie string, yarn, or twine around the bottom of the stems, securing them together tightly.
- Hang the bunch upside down from a hook or herb rack, in a dark, airy room where the humidity is very low.
- To create a darker environment, place a paper bag over the bunch with the open end facing the ground. Make several small slits in the bag to prevent molding.
2. Dehydrating Basil
A dehydrator makes it a snap. Just set it and walk away, there’s no risk of overdoing it. The exact time can vary from 4-10 hours, depending on your machine.
Here are the steps for dehydrating basil:
- Pinch or cut the leaves off the stems using a sharp pair of pruning snips.
- Spread the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays without overlapping them.
- Turn the dehydrator on to either the “herbs” setting, or anything ranging from 95-105°F.
- Check every few hours and remove the leaves that are completely dried, leaving the soft ones to go longer.
3. Drying Basil In The Oven
Using your oven is a quicker way to dry basil, it typically only takes about an hour. However it’s also very easy to overdo it. So make sure to check on it often to ensure the leaves aren’t burning.
Below are the steps for oven-drying:
- Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, or between 170-180°F.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lay out the leaves or stems so they’re not touching.
- Place them into the oven for about 15 minutes (full stems will take longer than individual leaves).
- Check on them every 5-10 minutes to ensure none are burning, and remove any that are done.
4. Drying Basil In The Microwave
Using the microwave is the fastest method, but it’s also very easy to burn them. So be sure to check on them every 30-60 seconds.
Here’s are the steps:
- Place the pieces in a single layer on either a paper plate or paper towel so they aren’t touching.
- Run the microwave for 1 minute at medium power. Then check the basil, and remove the ones that are dry.
- Continue to run it in 30 second intervals, checking them after each, and removing the ones that crumble easily.
Using this method is very simple to do, but it’s also one of the slowest. It takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on how humid it is.
Here are the air-drying steps:
- Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a countertop or hanging rack.
- Place them in a cool, dry area where there’s sufficient airflow.
- Check the leaves every couple of days to ensure there’s no mold, and remove any that are done.
How Long Does It Take To Dry Basil?
How long it takes to dry basil depends on the method you use. It can take anywhere from several minutes to a few weeks.
The fastest way to do it is using either the microwave or the oven. While the slowest are air-drying and hanging.
How Can You Tell When Basil Is Dry?
You can tell when basil is dry by touching it. When it feels brittle and crispy, and crumbles easily in your hand when you crush it, then it’s ready. If it’s soft at all, then it needs to go longer.
How To Store Dried Basil
Keep it in a cool dark area, like a pantry or cupboard. Make sure to mark it with the date so you know when it expires.
How Long Does Dried Basil Last?
Dried ground basil can last between 2 to 3 years, while whole leaves can last up to 4 years.
However, the flavor does degrade over time. So it’s best to replenish your supply every few years.
In this section I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about drying basil. If you can’t find yours here, leave a comment below.
What is the best way to dry basil?
The best way to dry basil depends on your time and personal preference. Air and hang-drying take the longest, while using a microwave or the oven are the fastest, and a dehydrator is the most convenient.
How do you dry basil so it doesn’t turn brown?
To dry basil so it doesn’t turn brown, use the lowest temperature setting on your dehydrator, and ensure you never overcook it in the microwave or oven.
Can fresh basil be dried?
Yes, fresh basil from the garden, grocery store, or farmer’s market can be dried using any of the methods described in this tutorial.
Drying basil is a simple and cost effective way to enjoy it all year long in an array of recipes. Simply choose the method that works best for you, and you’ll be able to have it on hand whenever you need it.
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More About Vegetable Gardening
- 6 Ways To Dry Herbs The Right Way
- How To Dry Oregano At Home In 4 Different Ways
- How To Dry Lavender From Your Garden
- How To Dry Peppers (5 Best Ways)
Share your tips for drying basil in the comments section below.