How to Dry Basil in the Microwave

Here’s how to quickly dry basil in the microwave. A great technique when you have just a little basil at a time.

microwave drying basil

One of my favorite herbs in my spice cupboard is dried basil. I use it in soups and stews, Italian Seasoning Mix, pizza sauce, and any other dish where I need a little somethin’ somethin’.
crumbled dried basil

Because I usually have a fairly large crop of basil, I usually prefer to hang my basil to dry or dry basil in the dehydratorbasil hanging

I hang it in our dark, dry, very hot detached garage. During the summer months it’s the ideal location to dry the leaves quite quickly – often taking less than a week. It’s an easy, cost effective and efficient way to dry herbs. But if conditions are humid or if you want to speed the process, air drying broad leaf herbs like basil may take too long and may lead to browning or mold.

To speed up drying or if you have just a few leaves, the microwave can also be used to dry herbs like basil. Baking ovens typically don’t go lower than 150°F (65°C) so I don’t recommend using them to dry herbs. Ideally, herbs should be dried at about 95°F (35°C).

Here’s what my microwaved basil looks like – nice green color for the most part, but there are some dark spots too. That’s basil for you – super sensitive!

basil dried in microwave - watermarked

To dry basil in the microwave:

  1. Wash basil and remove leaves from stems.
  2. Dry well. Use a salad spinner or gently pat dry with a towel. The more moisture on the leaves the more likely you’ll get brown spots.
  3. Sandwich basil in a single layer between two pieces of paper towel.sandwich basil - watermarked
  4. Place in microwave for 30 seconds at medium to high power. NOTE: All microwaves are different – you don’t want to burn the basil, lower power and shorter time periods are best, use the setting that work best for your microwave. If you’re not sure, do a small batch to test results.drying basil in microwave - watermarked
  5. Take herbs out of the microwave and allow to cool for 30 seconds, then test to see if any are dry and brittle. Remove those that are, rotate those that aren’t and return them the microwave for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all leaves are dry.
  6. Allow basil to cool for an hour before storing in a paper bag or glass container. This allows them to cool thoroughly and avoids condensation build up in the storage container. Check the container for signs of condensation within the first 24 hours. Any moisture, will lead to mold, which will quickly destroy the entire batch!
  7. Keep basil leaves as big as you can to retain maximum flavour.  Crumble or crush them into the desired size when you’re ready to use the basil in your favorite recipe.
  8. If you have any doubts as to whether or not your basil leaves are fully dried, store them in the freezer.

Dried basil will last for about 6 months before the flavor starts to fade.

Enjoy!

Want to learn more? How about a preserving workshop with Getty? Call today as fall dates are booking quickly. Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.

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