Drying Basil

When I planted my new raised garden July 15, I bought a left over withered basil plant and stuck it in. Now it is 2 feet in diameter, 2 feet tall and dense with leaves. How is the best way to dry this?Thanks
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I cut it back, like any plant, then tie the stems together with string and hang itu upside down in an area with wind movement. (we live in a humid area so I worry about molding). that's alwyas worked for me.
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Culturalenigma wrote:

Thats how we did ours too. Wife got a whiff of it dry, smelled the container of store bought stuff and threw the contents out & replaced it with the fresh dried stuff.
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On Wed, 17 Sep 2003 10:38:50 -0400, Allan Matthews

With a food dehydrator, probably.
But I don't dry basil, I don't think the taste holds up very well to drying. I freeze it, and this keeps all that great 'fresh basil taste' (although not the texture, of course)..
I puree lots of basil leaves in my blender, with enough water to make a thick but pourable slurry. Then I pour this into ice-cube trays and freeze them. When they're frozen solid, I take the 'basil-cubes' out of the ice trays and store them in the freezer in a freezer bag.
Then I just grab a basil cube or two and toss it into soups, stews, chili or pasta sauce whenever I'm cooking them.
Pat
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I do the same thing but I use red wine to cover the basil in the trays. Makes a gread sauce when you are ready. Barbara
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wrote:

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You can also wash and pat dry each individual leaf, wrap in a paper towel, napkin, or cheesecloth, then put a stack into a sandwich bag and freeze them that way. When you use them, take them out, cut them frozen (once thawed the consistency will be practically gone), and use them that way (if you are cooking, that is, don't do this for fresh salads...lol). I've done this too.
Also, you can get some olive oil, a nice jar with a sealable lid, and make some basil oil by washing, then filling the jar with your fav. oil, and dropping in a "twig" of basil with leaves. You can also add a bit of thyme, rosemary, and sage, and use that for cooking a YUMMY chicken or pork.
Trai
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Last year, at a friend's recommendation, I washed some basil leaves and tossed them wet into a bag and into the freezer. When I want some, I just pound the bag to chop the leaves and then use them. Works fine.
Regards, Dianna _______________________________________________ To reply, please remove "fluff" from my address.
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Allan Matthews wrote:

If you have a dehydrator: Dry leaves in a single layer at 95Deg for about 3 hours(depends on the humidity in your area). If not: I defer to others.
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Pluck the leaves from the plant and put them (lots) in trays you get from the nursurey to hold your six packs, do this on day when its sunny and you are not going anywhere. Place the trays in your car with the windows rolled up in the sun. In a few hours you have completely dry basil. We do this as we live off grid and dehydrators and freezers are power hogs (though we have freezer). We use a lot of dried basil in the winters and this way, although its not fresh, your basil doesnt cost you anything.
The basil smell in the car doesnt hang around long in the event it bothers you.
Mark
Allan Matthews wrote:

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What a great idea! I use paper bags. Pick off all the leaves, fill the bag 1/4 full flatten to distribute evenly in bag and put them in a dry place standing up - this way you can store more like books. You can cut small slits in sides of bags for air circulation. I do this with all my herbs now and it takes a while depending on the humidity and temp and I like it better than drying and hanging I used to do. Less messy to pick off the fresh leaves than dried. I think next yr I'll try the car idea.

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Tina,     We have been using the bags too. We never tried the slits but the last bit of basil we tried some of it got moldy. Perhaps the slits are the answer or we had them too packed or in an area with not enough circulation.     My wife just did 4 trays of herbs (quite a bit) in the truck the other day, its so fast it makes it easy.
Thanks for the tip on the slits...
Mark
Tina Gibson wrote:

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Not much chance of drying anything in the car here anymore - it's possible we'll get our first frost this weekend. HIghs are in the low 20s (C). You're off the grid!! Something we are working towards. Got a house in the city and mainly undeveloped property in the country. Get a little more done out ther every yr - but can't actually move till the kids are out of highschool - no way they'll move out there!! Only have a sauna building out there that we try and stay in on weekends when things aren't too hectic in town. So only pseudo - country folks for the moment. Hopefully next yr a house will start to appear.... What do you depend on? wind, solar, water-power?? What is your water source and how do you irrigate your garden? Be interested in hearing more. Sorry if you've already posted - I've been absent from these news groups for about 4 yrs now...recently severenced off and have some free time on my hands..

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Tina,     Good luck in getting out to your land. Right now we are on solar and hoping, as soon as we get a shop built, to build a wind generator. We havent had any need for power since the solar got online but at this point we are only in a small cabin while we are building the house. Having the extra boost of the wind will be handy when the whole house is done. We have all the regular do-dads, Frige, TV, PC, Satellite internet, stereo, etc.. Washer and such will come when we get in the house.     For water we catch rain water off the roof (metal) store it (2500 gallons) in cisterns. For drinking water we built a solar distiller. Put water from the cisterns in it. For the garden, once the house is done we will recycle greywater from the house and use underground irrigation in areas we can. We are also going to build another cistern for the greenhouse for watering (catching rain).     We have only been here for a year and a half now and we lost almost all of last winter and spring as it was very wet and we werent able to work much. Hopefully this winter will be better for working.
Mark
Tina Gibson wrote:

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You can pull the whole plant out and cut off the root area. If some of the branches are thick enough, break them or cut them off. Then tie a string around a group of them. I took about 5-6 branches and tied string around a bunch on one end and tied another bunch at the opposite end of the string. In other words, you have a bunch of branches hanging off each end of the string. You can also use rubber bands to make sure it's tight enough and doesn't fall out. You can hang the string over a shower rod and let it dry naturally. I had natural light, but not sun hitting them. They will take a couple of weeks to completely dry. You want to make sure that they crumble and are not rubbery when removing the leaves. Otherwise, you will have mold growing in a jar. Store the dried leaves in an air tight container in a cool, dry place (kitchen cabinet works).
You can also freeze basil. I do this more than drying now. You can try a few leaves and see what you think. Remove some leaves from the plant and wash them in cold water. Leave them wet and lay them in a freezer ziploc bag. They can be layered as thick as you want. Seal the bag and use a straw to suck out the excess air (vacuum seal) so you don't get freezer burn. Every time you need basil for a recipe, just crumble the leaves and pour some in. The basil becomes brittle when frozen and by squeezing the bag, it breaks into tiny pieces (perfect for recipes).
Enjoy!
We're getting pelted with lots of rain and gusting winds right now from Hurricane Isabel. It's supposed to get worse in the next few hours. Hopefully, we'll have power tonight.
Penny Zone 7b - Raleigh, NC

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To all the people who recommended cutting the entire plant, and hanging upside down to dry, how do you all deal with the dust that settles on the plants. Please dont say "I put them in an area that isnt that dusty". It would seem unless you live in a home that is extremely tight and uses an air to air heat exchanger with filtration or something dust, and good amounts given the time it takes basil to dry, would be in most every home. All the dust that settles on your drying basil is ground right up with the basil unless you can somehow dust the plant without shattering the leaves when its dry.
While I am not affraid of eating dust, as it was part of my proffession in the construction trade for many years, with all that we put into our gardens to include lots of dust in the final product doesnt seem right. For this reason alone we rarely dry anything out in the open anymore even dried flowers that are not to be eaten.
Mark
Allan Matthews wrote:

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On Wed, 17 Sep 2003 10:38:50 -0400, Allan Matthews

I have never had much luck drying basil. The end result does not seem to me to be remotely like the fresh, and so I don't bother. I have not tried the various freezing altermatives. Since I live in a relatively warm climate and have a small greenhouse, there are really only about 60-80 days during which there is likely not to be fresh available.
On the other hand, if your basil has gone to seed, you might want to consider cutting off the seed heads and drying them. They provide a fairly strong, and "durable" form of stored basil. To use in cooking, it is better to tie them in cheesecloth as the husks are kind of tough. Give it a try.
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The traditional italian method is to preserve/dry them in salt. Seems to work nicely.
Get a sealable mason jar, put 1" coarse salt in the bottom, put a single layer of basil, cover with 1/2" salt, add another layer of basil, repeat until you top it with 1" salt.
Bonus is that you get basil-scented corase salt to use as you use up the basil.
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