When you know it’s going to snow and you have a large row of basil what do you do? You make dried basil so you can have the luxury of home grown basil all year long. After trying a number of different ways to dry my basil we found one way that maximizes both flavor and appearance.
First we hand pick only the best, non-blemished leaves. Bigger is easier in this case but it is not necessary. We wash the leaves in a bucket or bowl of water and lay them out on paper towels until they dry completely.
Leaving the leaves on the paper towels, we tear them into individual squares, placing another paper towel on top, sandwiching the leaves between 2 pieces of paper towel. Placing the leaf sandwich into the microwave we cook for 30 seconds and check to see if the leaves are dry. If they are not dry, we cook for another 30 seconds. We usually cook for 1 minute.
After all the leaves are dry, we put them into one big pile and crush by hand. We usually do this on top of a piece of paper and then use a funnel to pour into a seasoning bottle.
It will take a lot of leaves to fill a bottle but it is so worth the effort. Ours lasts all winter long.
There is nothing more beautiful in the garden than fresh basil. We grew two 50 foot rows of it this year. They withstand the hottest and driest of days and need very little care to get them to grow. In order to keep the basil sweet and tender you need to stop it from flowering by constantly trimming it back. This promotes a lot of new tender growth and results in bushy plants. We don’t just sell a small stem of a few basil leaves, we sell a section of the plant that when left in a glass of water in the fridge will last a long time.
Just like most of the other items we grew, there was also too much basil. We couldn’t keep up with the trimming so finally let it bloom. It soon became covered with butterflies and our bees were in heaven! The aroma was incredible.
After considering what to do with the abundance of basil I decided to give drying a try. Everything I tried was adequate at best but the most unlikely process proved to be the best. Following a careful recipe using a microwave had amazing results. The leaves stayed green even after 6 months and the aroma and taste were far superior than what you buy in the store. I may come up with a way to sell this to our customers in the future.
Rather than growing the basil from seed next year I decided to winter over a few plants and create new plants from cuttings. Will also plant less since we had such excess.