Basil loves the June hot weather in Northcentral Florida. I have always grown Sweet Basil and prepared successfully. This year I added Holy Basil to the garden. However, I found differences in preparing the Holy Basil variety for the dehydrator. More about Holy Basil later. Here are my tips and tricks for drying Sweet Basil. Sweet Basil is more labor intensive to prepare, unlike other herbs that can be dried on the stems like rosemary, oregano, or thyme. TIPS AND TRICKS TO DRYING FRESH SWEET BASIL
Harvest early in the day.
If not able to process right away, place in plastic bag in refrigerator. Do not rinse.
For best results, prepare the basil the day it is harvested. You must prepare within 24 hours or many basil leaves will darken.
Pick or cut leaves from stems. Carefully check for aphids on underside of leaves. Holding the stems upright with leaves pointed down will help you spot these little creatures. Discard those leaves and any leaves that have darkened.
Rinse leaves at least three times. Gently redistribute after each rinse. Spin dry in a salad spinner. If no spinner, place single leaves between paper towels and gently pat dry.
Roll about 10 – 12 leaves into small bundle and cut bundle into 3 or 4 parts.
Distribute leaves on dehydrator trays. Do not overcrowd.
Set hydrator at herb setting – usually 95 degrees F and 35 degrees C. Sweet basil usually needs 20-24 hours to dry. This will depend on indoor humidity when drying.
Once dried, store in glass sealed containers until ready to process and put into small glass herb jars. Be sure to label the storage containers.
Notes on Holy Basil: This was my first experience with Holy Basil. Almost all the leaves had completely darkened after 24 hours in the refrigerator. I discarded the entire bunch. I will continue to experiment with this variety of basil. It does smell lovely and produces delicate blue spires on flowers.