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How to Dry Fresh Basil

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At the end of the summer gardening season, you may still have some of those spring/summer crops growing. In our garden, eggplant, parsley, basil, peppers, and okra are still thriving. But I know cooler nights are drawing near. For my vegetables, I’ll simply let them stop producing, but for herbs, I like to preserve their harvest by drying. And knowing how to dry basil from the garden is a great way to preserve the delicious flavor of basil for your fall and winter dishes. 

how to dry fresh basil

Why Dry Basil?

I love to use herbs in cooking throughout the year. There’s no better addition to fresh marinara sauce than basil that grew in the garden during the summer. And it’s so much cheaper (and better tasting) than the herbs you’ll buy at the grocery store. So not only are you getting a better taste, but you’re totally saving money!

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And if you have more basil in the garden than you can dry and use yourself, gift it! (If you pruned your basil during the summer, you should have loads!) I don’t know many folks who wouldn’t love to have garden fresh basil to use throughout the winter months. This would be a super easy DIY Christmas gift.

Didn’t grow basil this summer? That’s okay! If you buy the fresh basil packaged at the grocery store, you can easily dry the portion you didn’t use. I know I’ve let extra herbs go to waste in the refrigerator, but now here’s an easy way to use it all up. And if you let at least one plant go to seed, then you can save basil seeds for use next year!

Do you wash basil before drying?

Yes. Gently wash basil leaves in cool water taking care not to damage the leaves. Place the wet leaves on a clean dish cloth and allow to air dry on the counter. Or if the weather is nice, you can let them dry on a dish cloth outside. Simply put your dish cloth on a large cutting board or baking sheet for easy transport.

What You’ll Need to Dry Basil

Bunch of fresh basil (cleaned and dry)

Clean glass jar (just use an empty herb or mason jar)

Tight fitting lid for your jar

Parchment paper

Baking sheet

How to Dry Fresh Basil in the Oven

  1. Start by cutting fresh basil from your garden or grab that extra from the fridge. Wash the basil gently in cool water and spread on a kitchen towel to dry. (Or use a salad spinner if you’re in a hurry.) how to dry fresh basil
  2. Preheat oven to its lowest setting. Our is 150 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Begin placing leaves one at a time on parchment lined baking sheet, tossing aside any leaves with brown spots. Also try to remove as much of the little stems at the bottom of the leaves as possible. These can get tough when drying out. Be sure to spread leaves out, not allowing them to pile on top of each other. If basil is overlapping, it may steam instead of dry out. Steamed basil is no bueno. how to dry fresh basil
  3. Place basil in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Set a timer so you don’t forget about it!) Basil will be ready when it is dry to the touch. Remove basil from oven and let cool on the sheet. how to dry fresh basil
  4. Using your fingers, crumble the dried basil up into tiny pieces. If there are some tougher stem pieces, you should be able to easily pick them out in this step. how to dry fresh basil
  5. With crumbled basil still on the parchment, roll the parchment paper into a funnel and pour basil into clean jar. That’s it! Store your dried basil with your other herbs and enjoy your garden freshness throughout the winter!how to dry fresh basil

Can you air-dry fresh basil?

Yes! Basil can absolutely be air dried using a screen or herb drying hanger. (I like to use an upside down tomato cage.) Air drying basil should be done in a warm, dry place and will take a week or more depending on the conditions in the room. I will have a post coming soon on how to air dry basil and other herbs. Stay tuned!

How long does dried basil last?

Dried basil, when stored properly, will last 1 to 2 years, if it makes it that long. This is why using a clean, dry jar is so important. Any moisture in the container the dried basil is stored in could affect its longevity. The delicious flavor of dried basil is perfect for soups  and marinara sauce, so it may get used up pretty quickly!

Don’t let that basil in your garden go to waste this winter. Dry it out, and save it to use in delicious fall and winter recipes. You’ll be glad you did. And while you’re at it, if you’ve let any of your basil go to seed (bloom with flowers at the top), save those seeds for next year!

I’d love to know your favorite recipe that includes dried basil! Let me know in the comments below and happy gardening!

How to Dry Fresh Basil

how to dry fresh basil

Knowing how to dry fresh basil is an easy way to preserve this popular herb. Dried basil is a delicious way to flavor meals, and you'll know exactly where your basil came from!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 2 hours
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost Free

Materials

  • Basil
  • parchment paper

Tools

  • Baking Sheet
  • Glass Jar

Instructions

  1. Start by cutting fresh basil from your garden or grab that extra from the fridge. Wash the basil gently in cool water and spread on a kitchen towel to dry. (Or use a salad spinner if you’re in a hurry.) 
  2. Preheat oven to its lowest setting. Our is 150 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Begin placing leaves one at a time on parchment lined baking sheet, tossing aside any leaves with brown spots. Also try to remove as much of the little stems at the bottom of the leaves as possible. These can get tough when drying out. Be sure to spread leaves out, not allowing them to pile on top of each other. If basil is overlapping, it may steam instead of dry out.
  3. Place basil in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Set a timer so you don’t forget about it!) Basil will be ready when it is dry to the touch. Remove basil from oven and let cool on the sheet. 
  4. Using your fingers, crumble the dried basil up into tiny pieces. If there are some tougher stem pieces, you should be able to easily pick them out in this step. 
  5. With crumbled basil still on the parchment, roll the parchment paper into a funnel and pour basil into clean jar. That’s it! Store your dried basil with your other herbs and enjoy your garden freshness throughout the winter!

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I'd love to hear from you

Deb Hawkinson

Sunday 27th of September 2020

should I keep my crushed basil in the freezer on in an airtight container with my other spices?

Courtney

Monday 28th of September 2020

Hi Deb! I just keep mine in an airtight container like other spices. Hope this helps!

Betsy

Sunday 4th of August 2019

I’ve been drying basil this way for a while and it’s full proof! Just keep an eye on it the last few minutes. I store mine in a small glass jar and keep it in the freezer! It tastes like I just picked it!

Courtney

Sunday 4th of August 2019

So glad to hear it Betsy!

Heather

Saturday 29th of June 2019

Another method of freezing is to blanch the basil for about one minute and then set into an ice bath. Then dry the leaves off and put into a baggie in the freezer. I do this with my basil all summer long as I’m pruning it and at the end of the summer I end up with about a gallon bag full of basil that I use to make pesto. It will keep in the freezer all winter long and you can use it for sauces and cooking too.

Courtney

Saturday 29th of June 2019

What a great idea, Heather! I'll have to give this a try!

Robert J Sicora

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

Hello , is freezing the green ( not dried ) leaves another way to preserve your basil for future use a worthy idea ?

Courtney

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

Hi, Robert. Absolutely. If you'd like to freeze your basil, I'd recommend chopping it up, placing a spoonful in each compartment of an ice cube tray, then drizzle olive oil over the basil. Place in the freezer, and once everything is good and frozen, pop out the basil cubes and place them in a ziplock bag. This way you can pop out a cube when you're ready to use them. I hope this helps!

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