Drying your freshly grown basil is easy peasy. All you need is a pot of fresh basil and some time. Then you’ll enjoy this herb all year.
Summer’s growing season is here, and growing basil is super easy (for most people, anyhow. My thumbs are a bit black but I’m trying!). There’s absolutely every reason to dry your own herbs this year.
Air Drying Your Basil
Let’s air dry some basil. All you need is basil (of course), some string, a plastic bag and two eye hooks. I bet you already have these in your house.
Cut your basil and wash it. Let it soak for a few minutes and swish it around. After you pat it dry, look at your basil. Toss the leaves with holes or any that look weird. Now, gather your basil in even bunches, with the cut ends of the stems at the top. Tie the string around the top of the bunches. Make sure you tie them very tight because the basil will shrink as it dries. Make a loop with the string at the top so you can hang it up.
Choose a space in a cool, dry place and hang your basil. Hang your eye hooks and string. You can use a paper clip to hang up your basil bunches. Just thread it onto your loop of string.
Limp basil is gross. You need a month to dry your basil. You’ll know the basil is ready when it’s dried and crisp when you break it. If it’s limp, hang it back up. Once it’s ready, store in a plastic bag.
Don’t want to wait four weeks? Use your oven. You’ll need parchment paper and a cookie sheet.
Clip and clean your herbs as before. Dry in a salad spinner or in between two clean kitchen towels. Cut the basil into 1/4-inch sections. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your basil on it.
Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature. Place the cookie sheet on the top rack and cook for 2-4 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you can crumble it.
Do yourself a favor. Take an extra 10 seconds to label and date your freshly dried herbs. I’ll be honest, I never do this for my herbs. And I always regret it after I find a forgotten bag of some kind of herb buried in the abyss that is my spice drawer.
If you store your herbs in a cool, dry place, you can keep those suckers for years. Although it’s recommended to keep dried herbs for just one year for best taste.
You can chop or cut the basil when it’s dried. Store in an air-tight container. Here’s a tip: Store your basil leaves whole. Crumble them right before cooking for best flavor.
This post originally appeared in June 2016 and was revised and republished in May 2021.