It was time to begin harvesting our sweet basil crop – this year I picked up a cheap dehydrator (not the brand I want for long-term use but it will work for now) to make preserving herbs a lot easier.
Harvest basil in the morning when essential oils are the most concentrated in the leaves. That’s the idea anyway – by the time I got out there it was a little later in the day. I’m not a purist, I’m a get-it-done-ist you know.
Wash your sweet basil and press dry in a towel or paper towels. I pull the basil apart so the largest stems aren’t included in the dehydrator. Only the tender leaves and smallest branches will be put in the dehydrator.
Check your dehydrator’s time of drying as it will vary according to the model you have. My inexpensive dehydrator forces air from the bottom so you can’t overload the trays or airflow will be poor. I rotated the rings once during the drying process so the top ring was put closer to the bottom and the bottom ring moved closer to the top to help ensure even drying.
The sweet basil finished drying within 5 hours and was crisp and crunchy to the touch. It would have been able to be powdered if I chose to do that but I left it in crumbly pieces instead. Store your dried herbs in an airtight container and keep out of direct sunlight for the freshest flavor throughout the year.
Basil is so expensive, but when you grow it yourself from cuttings or seeds, it can be very inexpensive to grow. By preserving your own homegrown basil, either frozen for pesto or dried for use as a seasoning, you can save yourself money and increase your self-sufficiency one step further.