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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.
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!
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.
What You’ll Need
Bunch of fresh basil (cleaned and dry)
Clean glass jar (just use an empty herb or mason jar)
Tight fitting lid for your jar
How to Dry Fresh Basil
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
I’d love to know your favorite recipe that includes dried basil! Let me know in the comments below and happy gardening!