We all know how delicious basil is, but combine it with garden tomatoes and you’ve got my full attention. According to my herb Bible, basil also is a wonderful insect repellent and its medicinal purposes relieve nausea and gas.
When we lived in California I had a garden. But, with little ones at home I never had time to do much with my basil. Now that I’m living in Tennessee and the kids are older I may not have raised bed yet, but I made sure to enlist the help of my teenager and plant two varieties in the ground in front of the house. I was determined to harvest a bounty crop!
There’s lots you can do with your basil once you cut it and take it inside. For the first few days I put my basil in glass containers, white pitchers and low bowls just like I would a bouquet of flowers. Giada would’ve approved— and it made the house smell ahhhmazing!
My goal from the moment I planted is to make homemade pesto (Recipe on the blog next Wednesday!) but I didn’t want to waste a bit, so I decided to dry some basil for my soups and stews this fall, too.
When I researched all the ways to dry basil, I realized I didn’t have the patience for the other ways, so the microwave method won out and it was like magic!
Wash your basil well.
Tear off the leaves you want to use. The prettier, larger leaves were my choice for drying.
Lay out leaves flat on a paper towel. Allow the leaves to air dry for 1-2 hours.
Take the paper towel with the basil leaves and set flat in the microwave.
Microwave on high for 90 seconds to two minutes. (Two minutes seemed to be the magic time for me.)
Leaves will be crispy. Let leaves cool and place in an airtight container.
Add leaves to your fall/winter dishes!
Depending on how much basil you bring in from your garden, you could be picking leaves for quite awhile. I passed the time by watching an old 80s movie on Netflix. With the kids at school it didn’t seem like work at all.
Once my leaves were completely dry, I began the microwave process. In a matter of minutes my home smelled like an Italian restaurant–the kind you wish you could eat at more often than your anniversary–that kind of Italian restaurant.
By the time I was done there was enough basil to fill my glass jar (approximately 8oz.) and another flat plastic container to hold my dried purple basil. I have a surplus of basil to get me through fall/winter now. The hard part is deciding what recipe I’ll make first.
When I was a little girl my mom would make her spaghetti sauce from scratch. She’d put in dried basil leaves each time, letting the sauce gently bubble and simmer for hours. Finally, before she’d prepare the pasta she’d dig through her sauce with a spoon to find the basil leaves. I was always amazed that she never missed a leaf.
One day I finally asked her, “Mom, how do you know how many basil leaves to put in? And, how do you remember how many to look for when your sauce is done?”
She stirred and smiled, “I always put in four basil leaves. One for each of my children. That’s how I remember.”
I’m grown and mom is in Heaven –and you’ll never find less than four basil leaves in my spaghetti sauce. This year they’ll be from my own garden. I think mom would be proud.
P.S. Enjoy this blackberry basil scone recipe from At The Picket Fence. Another way you can use your garden basil!
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