Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world and can be found in many kitchens as well as home gardens. For the home herb supply, the aromatic plant is harvested regularly. Unfortunately, fresh harvesting is usually not possible in winter, as basil is extremely sensitive to cold. But how can you overwinter basil so that the herb can be used all year round?

If you don’t want to do without the tasty plant during the cold months, you can preserve basil. Food drying is one of the most popular methods. We show you what you need to consider when drying basil. We also reveal which method is the best and how to cut or properly harvest fresh herbs.

Drying fresh basil – Which varieties are suitable?

As a rule, all basil varieties can be dried without any problems. So, it makes no difference whether you want to dry wild basil, lemon basil or Thai basil. Incidentally, many other herbs, such as sage, are also excellent for drying.

How to harvest basil?

Before you can dry fresh basil leaves, you should harvest basil properly. This depends not only on the correct timing, but also on the technique. Harvesting herbs correctly is often not so easy. If basil is still young, the herb has only developed little flavor. However, if the plant is already in bloom, it usually has a bitter taste. So just before flowering is the right time to harvest basil.

Pick basil – Here’s how to do it correctly

  • Individual branches are harvested whole
  • When harvesting, a pair of leaves should always remain, because if at least two eyes remain, the plant sprouts again
  • The individual basil leaves are cut off including leaf style
  • For cutting, a pair of household or garden shears is suitable
  • If you want to cut basil properly, you need nothing more than the right time, a pair of scissors and some sensitivity.

How to dry fresh basil?

To prepare, the leaves should be thoroughly washed under running water. Now there are several ways to dry herbs. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. It is especially important to dry basil at low temperatures. This is because the unique aroma is preserved as much as possible, and the plant does not become bitter.

  • Air drying leaves

To avoid mold, you should pat the plant dry with a kitchen towel after washing. Then tie the leaves with a binding wire, rubber band or raffia ribbon and place the finished bouquets in a well-ventilated place. Once the basil is dried, the leaves will take on a dark green color. Air drying herbs takes about two weeks. Basil is sufficiently dried when the leaves rustle and can be crumbled with the fingers. A well-sealed glass or plastic container is best for storing dried herbs.

  • Drying herbs in the oven

Dehydrating in the oven is also among the most effective ways to properly dry herbs. Moreover, this method saves a lot of time. To do this, the washed leaves are spread generously on a baking tray and dried at a maximum of 122°F for a few hours. The drying process is complete when the leaves can no longer be bent but crumble. The convection function of the oven speeds up the drying process. It is only important that the oven door remains open a crack during drying. Only in this way can the moisture escape properly.

  • Drying basil yourself in the microwave

The popular herb can also be dried in the microwave within a few minutes. However, basil loses a lot of its flavor in this short time. Even on a low power setting, the essential oils volatilize in seconds. Therefore, this method is less recommended.

Dry or freeze basil?

Can basil be frozen or is drying the better preservation method?

In principle, it is possible to freeze basil. However, we do not recommend this method. Only blast freezing makes freezing possible without loss of aroma. In the home kitchen, however, the herb should first be blanched or made into pesto. Here, the drying methods are the better option. In addition, dried herbs can be kept for up to 2 years if stored properly. Frozen herbs should be used up after 10 months at the latest.

Besides herbs, many other foods can be dried and preserved very well. Dried mushrooms, such as chanterelles, enhance numerous dishes, and homemade fruit chips are a great alternative to gummy bears. Dried vegetables can also be used to make delicious low carb chips. We hope you have fun trying them out!