How can I dry and save my basil? Every time I try they either mold or turn black and crispy. What's the secret?
Basil is one of the herbs that should not be dried, it is tasteless dried. Try chopping finely, place a teaspoon of chopped herb per square in an ice cube tray, then top up with water. After freezing, transfer the basil ice cubes to a plastic baggie.
To use, defrost or toss cubes frozen into sauce.
I'd say your basil has not been dried thoroughly, or it has not been stored correctly. It should be dried slowly, in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Best not to use heat. It should be crispy and easily crumbled when dry.
Store dried herbs in a cool, dry, dark place, well away from heat and moisture. If you can find dark-coloured glass containers with good air-tight seals, they'll be perfect.
I agree with Judi B that basil isn't the best herb for drying. I always think it's fairly flavourless. To be honest, once you've tasted fresh herbs, you'd never willingly choose to use dried herbs.
You can freeze it easily. I simply toss whole leaves into a plastic container and freeze it that way, but some people find that basil will turn black once frozen. I've never had the problem, but it's easily fixed - simply blanch the leaves briefly, then allow them to dry a little, then freeze.
Simply put, a DEHYDRATOR makes the most sense to dry herbs. The quicker they dry out, the more flavor they retain. Also the quicker they dry out, the less problems with spoilage. Dehydrators are not very expensive and are useful not only for herbs, but for many things that can also be dried like strawberries, potatoes, carrots, meat jerky and many other things.
Thanks everyone. I think I'll go with the freezing method.
here is what I have been doing for a few years:
Pick, wash, and completely dry leaves with paper towels.
Coarsely chop up, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and toss with olive oil.
Roll chopped basil a cigar shape on good quality plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap). Roll up tightly, and then cover 'cigar' wiih tin foil. You should have a long cigar shaped roll. I keep it in the door of my freezer.
When you want some basil, just peel back and cut off a piece of the basil. It will stay green this way.
I agree with the other posters: Basil is an herb that must be served fresh. The dry stuff is not even worth bothering with.
Last year I tried to freeze my basil by just tossing it in plastic bags in the freezer. It worked ok for taste, but it did turn alot darker. This year I tried freezing it flat on a tray then putting it into the bag, that seems to working better. Making it into a kind of pesto works great too.
Here is what i do ....
I pick, Wash each leaf separately,
then i place in a room that we dont use with little air circulation from a fan, And i place each leaf separately on a cardboard box lined with paper towle. it takes about 7-10 days for drying, then once all dry i transfer to a jelly canning jar and store in a cool cabinet. My Basil is flowering and i also take the flowers and dry them as well. Surpurb flavor in baking. And the color thing, mine a dark green almost black but you can seee that it is still green.
The faster and quicker an herb is dried, the more flavor and smell it will have. It also helps to hold more of the natural color too. Leaving herbs to air dry just doesn't work well for me, and I usually end up with brown stufff thats tasteless. Drying in a cheap $30-$50 dehydrator for about a single day makes more sense. Alton Brown (Good Eats) used to recommend placing herbs to be dried between two fiberglass air filters and using a fan. After that episode aired, it was revised and you were told not to use any air filers for drying purposes as they contain bacterial chemicals