Preserving Basil – 3 Different Ways Explained

In this post you’ll learn 3 different ways for preserving basil. We’ll teach you how to make freeze dried basil, how to dry basil by hanging, & how to dry fresh basil in the oven. Dried basil leaves give you the option to use basil in recipes all season long. Drying basil in the oven is our favorite method but we’ll also teach you how to freeze basil leaves. Learn how to dry basil in the oven & how to preserve basil leaves. For us the best way to dry basil is the oven method but you can make up your own mind.

Preserving Basil - 3 Ways Compared - www.alifeofbalance.com

There are few things as satisfying as using herbs and vegetables that you have grown yourself.  Herbs are easy plants to grow and once harvested and packaged, can be used for many months.  Once such herb that is a perennial favorite is Basil. 

Basil is often planted along with tomatoes or grown on its own.  Basil grows fast and loves the sunshine and heat.  You will be able to harvest basil throughout the growing season. Harvest regularly and you will have your pantry stocked by the end of the summer.

Basil is best harvested before it begins to flower, otherwise, it has a bitter taste.  Use scissors or garden shears to remove stalks of Basil and to trim off the leaves.  Be careful not to bruise the leaves as they will oxidize and turn black. 

Preserving Basil - 3 Ways Compared - www.alifeofbalance.com

There are 3 ways of drying basil:  Oven Dry, Air Drying, or Freezing.  We tried all 3 and they all provided us with flavorful aromatic basil for our cooking.  Be sure to store your dried basil leaves whole to retain flavor.

Preparing Fresh Basil

Before you start any of the drying methods, you need to rinse and dry your basil leaves.  We simply filled a sink with cold water, dump in our basil leaves, and swished them around.  We then spread our leaves out on several clean dish towels to dry overnight.  Some have suggested using a salad spinner.

How to Air-Dry Basil

This is the simplest method, but it takes the most time. 

  1. Use twine to bundle 3-4 stems together. Larger bunches may grow mold.
  2. Hang the basil leaves in small bunches out of direct sunlight.
  3. Be sure there is air circulation around your bunches of leaves.
  4. If you hang them against a wall, be sure to turn them every few days.
  5. When the leaves break and don’t bend, the basil is dry. This usually takes 4-5 days.  During that time, your home is filled with their wonderful aroma!
  6. Once dried, you can put your dried basil in a tightly sealed jar. We used small mason jars for storage.
  7. Store your jars in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

How to Oven-Dry Basil

  1. Preheat your oven to lowest setting. Our oven was set at 175 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Spread your basil leaves out on the parchment paper in a single layer.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it so they don’t scorch!
  5. After 15 minutes turn the oven off and let cool for a couple of hours.
  6. If your basil is not completely dry, turn the oven back on at 175 degrees. Put the basil back in the oven for 15 minutes and then turn the oven off.  Your basil should be completely dry.
  7. Store your dried basil in a tightly sealed jar, away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place.

Freezing Basil

An alternative to drying your basil is to simply freeze the fresh leaves.

  1. Place a handful of chopped basil leaves in a plastic freezer bag. We used the “snack size”.
  2. Store the bags in your freezer. Be careful not to crush them until they are hard frozen.
  3. To use, thaw a bag of basil in your refrigerator overnight.

Regardless of the method you use, you now have a ready supply of basil for your recipes.  Your dried basil should keep about a year or so if stored properly.

Preserving Basil - 3 Ways Compared - www.alifeofbalance.com

Tell us about your experiences drying herbs in the comments.  We would love to hear from you.

This Caprese Chicken Recipe is great with dried basil. I also love to use dried basil for Bruschetta during the winter when I don’t have fresh basil.

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