Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | July 16, 2013

Easy Air Drying Basil and Herbs

I grow a lot of herbs at the Small House; oregano, thyme, basil, chives, fennel, sage and more. My husband is Italian and I cook from scratch most days (and love to use herbs) so that means we eat a lot of basil.


A section of my herb bed that also incorporates a bird bath.

I have the best luck here with my basil if I grow them in potting soil in clay pots on my deck. Basil needs to stay moist and I can keep my eye on them and water them nearly every day that way.

In Michigan I plant my basil starts in the late spring around mid-June. I buy them here from a small grower for around $2.00 a pot of three starts.  I plant two or three baby plants in each large pot. This year I began with six large pots filled this year with two or three plants in each clay pot but the big wind storm took out two of them.


Pots of basil happily growing on my desk just off our three-seasons porch.

By mid-July they have grown large and full enough that I can start harvesting the leaves and drying them.

I pick a handful of leaves and set them on cookie sheets and air dry them-no electricity needed.  Our old dehydrator gave out and I’ve done my research and was ready to purchase a new one, but quite frankly we have just had too many repairs and mechanical replacements this summer. As in a new push mower, a new water heater, air conditioning unit repairs, lawn tractor repairs and auto repairs. Looks like the new dehydrator will be another year.

In a typical summer air drying herbs takes about two weeks. This year we have had a lot more rain and humidity than normal and it is taking three to four weeks to thorough air dry basil this year.


Air drying basil leaves on cookie sheets in the hit sun on our hot tub cover.

If I have the time, and it is not too windy outside, I move the cookie sheets outside and let the sun help the drying process along. I do have to be prepared to pick up a few dry leave from the deck though.

When they are totally dried out, I place them in an old canning jar, seal and set aside for my winter cooking.  I am always happy that I can do this without using a dehydrator (for now) or any electricity!

When I need basil for a dish, I grab a leaf or two, place them in between my two hands and rub my hands together and the leaves crumble up nicely. Not as potent as fresh cut, but fresh and tasty anyway.

We are looking forward to some basil in soups and stews this winter!

Sharing a traditional fresh Pesto recipe (s) in case you want to use them fresh.

Traditional Pesto (Amounts to taste)

Add Basil, Garlic (3 cloves) Pine nuts, Olive oil (to taste)

Tarragon Pesto (Amounts to taste)

Using Tarragon, Garlic (3 cloves), Pine nuts, 2 tsp parmesan cheese

Puree it in food processor, add olive oil


Small House / Big Sky Donna

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