Monday, July 26, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over With Basil

Why do I do it?

Why do I think if two plants are OK then 10 might be better? Heaven forbid that I might not have enough basil to use over the course of the rest of my life.

I blame it on last year when all my basil was eaten by either the slugs or the rats with hooves deer. We were short on basil. It was BasilSiberia and that isn’t ever good.

So this year I planted 5 basil plants in pots in my house garden….and then LookLeap and I decided that we needed to plant some basil in the garden. We only put in five for the love of Pete. We don’t have an entire row like Colin does. And yet, five plants are giving us A LOT of basil.

I have made pesto…a lot. We have had basil on our pizza and in other dishes. And now I am drying it.

Drying and drying and drying.

I don’t have a dehydrator….yet. But you don’t need a dehydrator to successfully dry basil. Nor do you need to air dry it which takes…..FOREVER. I know, I tried thinking I would give you a side by side comparison. I gave up after three days when the leaves looked wilted but none where near dry.

But I have found a way oh yes I have. And I am going to impart the directions to you.

I love you guys you know.

IMG_7356A First you need basil….lots and lots of basil. You will be amazed at how much basil shrinks down to little leaves.

You want to wash your basil in the sink. Give it a good drink, it’s last, before you blast it with heat.

Then you will want to pick the good leaves off of the stems. I spent a lot of time on the internet researching how to dry basil. Hours and hours and hours. And they all say use only the really good leaves when drying. But I am cheap frugal and it just doesn’t seem right that I shouldn’t use as many leaves as possible. So what if there are some tiny areas where the slugs had dinner.

IMG_7359A Oh yum. I wish I had Smell-O-Vision so you could smell these leave. If I could roll around in them I would.
And I seem to be in love with Bokeh.

IMG_7364 copy Then you want to spread the leaves out on a dish towel on an baking sheet. Try to get them into a single layer if possible. It just helps the drying.

I don’t have regular dish towels, I have surgical towels that have been repurposed. They are indestructible and the price was right….


Thanks Dad.

I just try not to think about the fact that at one point they were used for surgery……and might have been inside someone however briefly.

Moving on.

OK, the next thing that you want to do is to heat the oven up to 350F and let it heat for at least 15 minutes. Then turn the oven OFF and put the baking sheet into the oven and close the door.

Remember, the oven should be off. You want to dry the leaves not cook them. I actually prop the door open with a folded towel to get some air circulation.

Every 30 minutes or so check on the leaves and stir them around a bit. I can’t tell you how long it will take to have them dry, it depends on how many leaves you are drying. I would do only one pan at a time though because the leaves don’t dry as well if you have more than one baking sheet in at a time.

IMG_7367 Take the sheet out when most of the leaves are dry and brittle. If there are a couple of leaves that are still not quite dry that is OK because you are going to let these leaves sit out for a bit to cool down.

When all the leaves are dry and brittle then store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

IMG_7369IMG_7370I used one of my favorite old, blue mason jars.

I love mason jars. I am obsessed with them. I will tell you about it someday when I can make myself bring the love into the light.

Can you imagine my joy and rapture when I bought a dozen old ones from the resale shop the other day…..for $2 for all of them.

I am still shivering with rapture. 


  1. I LUV BASIL!!!!!!!!

    Yep. That's how I dry herbs, too. Except I omit the surgical towel. heh-heh

  2. I love that you had them on a surgical towel!! That's awesome. I'm so glad you showed how to dry herbs--now I feel like I can do it with ease. I bet your house smells WONDERFUL!

  3. Thanks for the drying tip....I never knew nor took the time to find out. I tried the hang them till their dry, but that never really worked to well for me.

    If only I lived closer to you ~ I would gladly take some basil off your hands! :) I have a thing for mason jars myself ~ so wonderful to store things in!

  4. In re: surgical towels. You're welcome. It helped a lot to have the OR scrub nurses as patients.

  5. Awesome post! I've got so many basil plants out front in my herb garden. They kind of took over and smothered all else out.
    How long will they keep dried? I've got a dehydrator but haven't used it on anything more than fruits...
    And how do you use them dried? When a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, do you just crumble up a leaf into a teaspoon measurer?

  6. @Donald - the surgical nurses always like you best.

    @McVal- if you keep the leaves in airtight container in cool dry place they should last until next growing season or until you use them up (usually the case around here). If the recipe calls for a teaspoon dry then yes you crumble it up.

  7. I had to come back to this to remember what to do--I'm drying basil tonight!

  8. I did it and it turned out great! I'm so excited at how easy and economical it is so I'm going to make more. Thanks for teaching me how. :o) One funny thing--I thought I was making TONS of dried basil. I made like 2 tablespoons! HA!! You weren't kidding when you said how much basil shrinks down!


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