Most people are conversant in basil in its dried, crushed form. Some are conversant in it in its fresh form also. So how does one catch on from fresh to dried?
It’s not hard in the least and requires no special tools or equipment. There are two options for drying basil: air drying and oven drying. Some people use a microwave, but there are tons of reasons to not do that.
Microwave NO, Toaster oven YES!
Using a microwave to dry any herb, especially herbs like basil whose primary flavor is in its oil, maybe a bad idea. Microwaves work by agitating the water molecules in whatever is inside the oven. This agitation has side effects. within the case of basil, it breaks down the oils. Toaster ovens, on the opposite hand, use conventional heat to try to do the work, in order that they are like smaller versions of ordinary ovens.
The first step in drying basil is to select it from the garden. you would like it to be ripe and prepared, but basically any basil leaf that’s fully formed may be a good herb. Most growers wait until the leaves are two or three inches long before cutting. those that grow a vegetable garden and are harvesting before winter sets in, however, may have shorter plants because they’ve been trimming all year to use the herbs in their recipes.
Regardless, for the ultimate cut, cut the leaves as far down the stem as you’ll reach. If you employ a pointy pair of scissors or a knife, you’ll cut near the soil and obtain bundles in handful sizes. This makes it easier to not only harvest but affect the basil leaves up to the time you start the drying process.
You should pick basil on an equivalent day you propose to start the drying process. Unless extreme weather or another hazard to the plants is on its way, it’s best to chop the basil when you’re able to use it. Once you’ve got the leaves cut, wash them thoroughly under water roughly an equivalent temperature because the location where the basil was growing (likely outdoors at ambient temp). This keeps them from being shocked, which may cause premature curling.
DRY BASIL within the OVEN
The bundles are often separated into individual leaves. To use the oven (or toaster oven), you’ll get to remove the stems also. These will burn within the oven and ruin the taste of the basil leaves. So you’ll have tons of cleanup to try to do. Use sharp scissors and cut the bottom of the leaf to get rid of the stem entirely. Trim any burnt areas of the leaf (edges, tips) from sun exposure also.
Once this is often done, lay the basil on oven-safe sheets like baking sheets (ceramic if you’ve got it), big plates, etc. Set the oven to around 250-300 degrees (lower is best, but takes longer). You don’t want to “cook” the basil, just dry it out. If you reside during a humid area, keep the oven door propped open slightly to permit the air to circulate a touch and let evaporated moisture out of the oven.
A tray of single-layer leaves will take several hours (at least 6) to dry. Turn the oven off, but leave the leaves in there once they are curling from dehydration. In an hour approximately, remove them from the oven and check one. It should be brittle and crush easily in your fingers. If not, put them back certain another hour. Watch them carefully to make certain they don’t burn!
AIR DRYING BASIL
This is a neater, natural method, but it takes tons of your time (to dry, not on your part). instead of separating the bundles, tie a string to the bottom of the stems and wrap the bundle in paper towels or newspaper. Hang them the wrong way up during a warm, dry area that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Many cooks love the smell and keep basil drying in their kitchens by hanging it above fixtures, in cabinets, etc.
Alternatively, you’ll put cut leaves (with or without stems, but loose) during a bowl and stir every few days to stay them rotating in order that they don’t compost. This takes every week approximately longer than hanging.
Air-dried basil is claimed to taste better and takes about 4-6 weeks to finish, counting on method and your climate.