Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Oven Dried Basil
I planted purple basil this spring. I've never had much luck in the past with growing herbs, other then mint that is, but the purple basil intrigued me as I had never seen it before. I put four established seedlings in the garden... three met their demise thanks to some bunnies or some other critter... but one survived! We've used it on some awesome homemade pizza, in refreshing salads, chicken dishes, soups and pasta sauces. Fresh basil is a must for my garden from now on!
Not wanting any of those wonderfully, aromatic leaves go to waste, I decide to dry a bunch. Another thing I've had issues with in the past lol. I am guilty of buying giant bunches of herbs in the grocery store with intent to dry whatever I don't use initially.... and they either turn to mush in the fridge, or brown when I hang them to dry. You would think it's such an easy thing to do... but herbs like basil and mint have more moisture and if left to air dry, can turn mouldy. A dehydrator would be ideal, but most of us don't own one.... at least, I don't!
After looking up a few methods, I decided oven drying was the way to go. Preheated the oven to the lowest temperature mine would go, which was 170F. The lower the better.
In the meantime, I washed the basil leaves and gently patted them dry between layers of paper towel. You can see some of my purple basil isn't so purple... the leaves that are more green didn't get enough sun, but are still perfectly good to use. Good to know for next year!
Next I spread them all out on a cooling rack fitted over a baking sheet. I used my baking stone but a glass or metal pan / dish will work too. Just be sure none of the leaves are touching each other. Like children in a car...
Turn off the oven (yes, off) and pop in the tray. Let them hang out for quite some time until the oven is completely cool. Check the progress and repeat if needed until the leaves are dry and you can crumble one. They will shrivel and shrink quite a bit once thoroughly dry.
Store in an airtight container.
I still have more basil coming so I'm hoping to dry another batch before the end of the summer. Mint.... I'm comin' for you next!