Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How To Dehydrate Basil

Today I wanted to share with you how I dehydrate my basil. I absolutely LOVE Basil. It is one of my favorite herbs to grow and cook with. There are many kinds of basil but today I am going to show you how I dehydrate my Sweet Basil. It is one of the easiest herbs that you can grow. In fact, all of the sweet basil that I have growing this year is from seeds that fell off of last years plants. I didn't have to do anything at all to get them  to grow. It is truly one of my sweetest blessings every spring.

They say that your basil tastes better if you trim it before it flowers. I, however, think basil ALWAYS tastes good. Even after it flowers. If your basil flowers, cut off the flowers to encourage it to keep growing. 

Here is how I trim my basil...

I trim the basil stem right above where I see new leaves growing out of it. Basil grows pretty fast and you will see it grow back in no time.  

After I trim my plants enough to fill my dehydrator, I wash the leaves with cool water to make sure their are no bugs on them.

Then I pull the leaves off of the stems and put them in my salad spinner. This will easily get off all of the excess water. I break the stems up and give them to my chickens. They love it when I share with them too. :) 

After spinning the excess water off of the leaves, I lay the leaves on a towel and pat the remaining moisture off with a paper towel. It is best to get the leaves as dry as you can before you put them into the dehydrator.

Now I lay the leaves onto the trays of the dehydrator.  It usually takes between 6 and 8 hours for the leaves to dry. I rotate the trays from time to time so the leaves dry evenly.

You can tell the leaves are done when they all turn brownish and they are crispy when you touch them. I usually put them whole into a mason jar for storage. 

When I need to refill my shaker I grind them up with my herb grinder. It is quite handy. I have crushed the leaves with my little stone crusher too. I refill a used empty herb shaker with the crushed sweet basil to make it easy to shake into my food.

If you save your empty shaker containers, you can put a fancy label on it and give fresh basil as gifts for Christmas. Family members always love a little piece of my garden and this is a very special way to say "I have been thinking of you all year long". 

Here is a picture of my back porch herb oasis. I love to sit on my back porch to enjoy my flowers and herbs. The butterflies, humming birds and bees love to visit and I love to watch them. :)
 Do you grow your own herbs? I would love to hear about your experiences with growing herbs. Do you grow them in pots or do you have a special garden for them? Do you give herbs as gifts too?