Harvesting and Drying Basil: A Guide to Preserving this Essential Herb
Basil is a beloved ingredient in dishes like pizza and pasta, adding both visual appeal and delightful taste. However, as winter approaches, it's important for plant owners to prepare their gardens, balconies, and even apartment plants for the cold. Basil, in particular, is sensitive to low temperatures, making it necessary to harvest the leaves and dry them for future use.
Drying Basil after Harvest: Tools and Air are Crucial
If you prefer to have a stash of dried basil that is not store-bought, you can easily dry the leaves yourself. Similar to preserving rosemary, basil can also be dried using a simple tool. A string, wire, or delicate elastic can be used to hang the basil, allowing it to dry properly. However, there are a few guidelines that amateur cooks should follow before drying the plant.
Drying Basil: Gather the Leaves and Store Them Properly
When harvesting basil, it is important to avoid plucking individual leaves. Instead, cut the necessary amount from the stems using scissors. The Utopia portal recommends leaving a small portion of the stem intact to hang the basil later. The best time to harvest basil for drying is when it is on the verge of flowering, as this is when it reaches its peak intensity. After cutting the desired amount of leaves, they should be bound together using wire, string, or any suitable material. However, it is crucial to ensure that there is enough space between the stems in the bundle to prevent mold formation.
To prevent mold during the drying process, the bundles of basil should be hung upside down in an area with good airflow. This can be a warm, dry, and dark spot in your home. The ideal conditions will help facilitate the drying process and prevent moisture accumulation.
Drying Basil at Home: A Helpful Tip for Knowing When It’s Ready
It usually takes around two weeks for basil to fully dry. You can easily determine if the leaves are dry by using a simple trick. Pluck one leaf from the basil bouquet and rub it between your fingers. If it crumbles easily, the drying process is complete. At this point, you can store the dried basil in a sealable jar, ensuring its long-term freshness and usability.