Uses - Dried basil is fantastic in pasta, omelettes, scrambled eggs, on roast meat and/or vegies, in salad dressings, on fish, and it makes a great home-made gift.
- Fresh basil from the garden
- String, wool or cotton thread
- A plastic container or ziplock bag
- (optional) 2 x eyehooks
Time taken - 1 hour
This is what the basil looks like when it's been air-dried. The result is similar to the dry flakes you get in containers from the supermarket but it has a much stronger flavor: this is because you lock in the flavor by not breaking it up into those little flakes until right before you use it.
Step 1: Pick and Wash Your Basil Leaves
For this Instructable I used the entire top half of 4 basil plants, but you can use as much or as little as you want.
Put all the leaves and stems in a clean sink and let them soak for a few minutes. I don't use any pesticides on my plants but there are still usually little bugs on the leaves, dirt, and the occasional spider web you don't particularly want in your dinner ;)
Swish 'em round with your hand a few times for good measure.
Step 2: Banish the Unworthy Leaves!
"And lo the good basil leaves shalt be placed upon a cloth laid down for them, while the evil basil shall be banished to the sink of rinsing, and from thence to the bin where it shall be forever cast down." (The holy book of basil 6:14) ;)
Step 3: Sort the Basil Into Bunches
Step 4: Ropin' Ropin' Ropin That Basil for the Win
Tie off one knot near the stems, and another at the end of some extra string, then slide a paperclip through the loop.
Step 5: String 'em Up!
CAUTION - Don't make my mistake and hang your basil above the toaster or the jug! We did this with one batch and ended up with one very brown, burnt bunch of basil (say that 10 times fast!) and another soggy bunch.
To hang the basil simply hook the paperclip over the string.
Step 6: The Drying of the Basil
How do I know if my basil has dried properly? The test to see if you're basil is ready for storage / cooking is to break one of the leaves between your fingers - if it's nice and crunchy and breaks easily it's done. If not give it another week and try again.
Step 7: Done!
If I'm feeling industrious I like to carefully remove the dried basil leaves from the stem and store the leaves in an air-tight container.
If I'm feeling lazy I just stick the leaves and stems in a ziplock bag for when I'm feeling industrious - see above, rinse repeat ;)
And that's it! With your own stock of dried basil on hand you'll never have to buy the (inferior) stuff from the shops again, and the leaves make a great little gift if you put them in a pretty glass jar (a cleaned coffee jar tied with ribbon is a good recyclable option).
I hope this Instructable has been helpful :) If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know in the comments.