Beautiful Basil! How To Dry & Store Your Yield!

by Suzan Ferreira
Beautiful Basil! How To Dry & Store Your Yield! closeup of basil plant

Learning how to harvest, dry & store your fresh basil harvest is a great way to have access to your basil throughout the year. Fall herb harvesting is one of my favorite times of the gardening season.  My absolute most favorite?  Harvesting my organic basil plants!  There is nothing like nutrient-rich, aromatic, fresh basil leaves.

The scent is powerfully unforgettable, with a strong anise smell.  I plant basil all along the base of my tomato plants as they make wonderful companions in your garden.  Definitely a topic for another day!  Come time to gather the basil in the fall, I have quite the substantial yield.

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Beautiful Basil! How to Dry & Store Your Yield!
Basil Yield

The taste of fresh basil from your garden is just as aromatic and notable as the scent.  A taste you will crave and be looking forward to experiencing fresh, garden-grown again all winter long.

Basil is part of the Lamiaceae family or mint family.  This culinary herb hails from the tropics, from central Africa to Southeast Asia, but can easily be grown outdoors in your gardening zone season or indoors (or so they tell me).  The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a great resource to find your specific gardening zone if you’re not sure of yours.  To be completely transparent, I have the best results direct seeding my basil in when I plant my tomato plants in the spring.  I have not had success growing indoors as humidity plays a large roll in being successful.  I hail from cold winters and heat with wood.  Thus, have had many a failure at trying to grow this beloved herb indoors!  I have TOTAL envy for those who are able to have kitchen plants throughout the year!

Herbs are one of the easiest crops to grow and utilize all year.  Most pests don’t bother with them and many are pest deterrents!  Whoo-hoo!  Love the added bennies.  Basil is no exception.  Not only is it considered a culinary herb, but it is also known for its medicinal properties.  Dr. Axe has a wonderful article which goes into all the medicinal uses for this great herb, 12 Benefits of Basil + Recipes.  Definitely worth a read if you are interested in all of its additional benefits!

Beautiful Basil! How to Dry & Store Your Yield!
Sweet Basil

My absolute favorites and must-haves when planting basil?  Of course, the traditional, Sweet Basil which can be found here.  Wonderful for use in pesto, sauces and storing.  Thai basil is also on the must-have list and can be found here. This is the MOST aromatic of all the basil that I have come across.  I also absolutely love Purple Basil found here.  This basil makes the most beautiful tomato & mozzarella caprese salad with its vibrant colors!  Finally, I love for many reasons, Tulsi Basil (aka Holy Basil) and seeds can be found here.  This basil I keep separate when drying and storing so that I may use for my tea in the winter. YUM!

To harvest, I wait until the end of the season, for my zone 5b, weather permitting, this is usually the end of September.  This gives me nice large stocks of basil with plenty of large leaves, which is great for drying.  As I grow everything organically, no need to wash or rinse before bundling.  Cut the stocks as low to the ground as you can and make bundles tying around the cut stock ends.  The smaller the bundle, the faster it will dry.

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I use twine, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand, culinary twine, twist ties, rubber bands, to bind the bundles tightly (they tend to shrink as they dry).  If you use twine like me, make sure to leave a long tail once you tie the bundle as shown.  Depending on the length of the bundle, I usually leave 8-12 inch tail.  This we will use to hang the bundles’ upside down.

Beautiful Basil! How to Dry & Store Your Yield!
Purple Basil Bundle

Once you have all your bundles tied, time to bring in to hang to dry!  I have a clothesline hung in my garage just for this purpose.  I call it my processing station during the growing season.  I use this line to dry all my herbs and garlic.  This area remains pretty undisturbed and I can allow my herbs to dry in a well-ventilated area without worry.

Remember the “tail” we left on the twine during the binding process?  Use this to tie upside down your bundles where you will be drying.  Avoid the kitchen (although they look so romantically beautiful) as this room has a lot of foot traffic and high humidity.  Think low traffic, low humidity (prevent mold), with good ventilation.  Hang from pegs, laundry rack, rafters, curtain rods or whatever you have on hand!

Don’t have space to hang your fresh herbs to dry? A small investment of a good dehydrator will do the work for you!

Beautiful Basil! How to Dry & Store Your Yield!
Hanging Basil Yield

The drying process varies according to your weather, but plan on several months hanging time.  Enjoy this time!  Your space will have the most heavenly scent during this process!  You will know when the herbs are ready to process to store when you squeeze a few branches and the leaves crumble easily (think crunchy).

To process and store, untie the bundle, squeeze or crush the leaves and flowers (good flavor!) on each branch over a large bucket or bag and let the crushed herb release.  You may have small stems that you can remove by hand.  Once you have your herbs crushed, store in a large, airtight container in a cool, dark area.  I use something similar to this for my storage.

As you can see by my hanging basil bundles, I harvest and store a large amount of basil.  I find that since this was freshly grown and harvested at its peak, it remains good to use for a year or more.  Thus, I don’t have to process each year!  Win, Win!!

Love to hear what your favorite basil of all time is!  I hope you enjoy your basil as much as I do mine!

Love, Light, & Laughter ~

Suzan

Beautiful Basil! How To Dry & Store Your Yield!

This article was featured at To Grandma’s House We Go, Thursday Favorite Things, & Busy Mondays!

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60 comments

Beverly May 21, 2020 - 2:35 am

Suzan,
I love Basil and have it growing now in my garden. I love the purple the best although I have never tried Thai basil. I dry mine too but this year I put some in the dehydrator. It worked fine but I like hanging it the best.
Congratulations, you are being featured at Thursday Favorite Things. I hope you stop by.

Hugs,
Bev

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Suzan Ferreira May 21, 2020 - 1:05 pm

Thank you, Bev, for reading & for the feature! I’m honored!!

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Dee | Grammy's Grid May 19, 2020 - 1:36 am

Good to know! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 12, open May 1 to 26. All party entries shared if social media buttons installed.

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Jayne May 18, 2020 - 2:21 pm

We use loads of basil in our recipes. I’m trying to grow some basil from seed this year but the seedlings are still so tiny, I’m not sure they will come to anything.

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Marie May 18, 2020 - 1:06 pm

I just planted my herb garden yesterday so your post is very timely. Thanks for the tutorial on how to harvest and dry it. I am definitely trying my hand at drying herbs this year.

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Donna Reidland May 18, 2020 - 10:39 am

I have grown it from time to time but had not thought about drying it. Guess I need to get those seeds planted! 🙂

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A spirit of simplicity May 15, 2020 - 2:05 pm

Beautiful. I have planted Basil already but here in Zone 6B we are a bit behind this year. It feels like March keeps on going , and going, and going. It snowed a bit last week and my basil plants got a little peeved about it but I think they will recover. I don’t have a garage and we’ve just a wee garden space so I don’t think I’ll have enough to dry. But, I can finish the rest off in a lovely pesto.

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Suzan Ferreira May 15, 2020 - 5:58 pm

Oh, that sounds lovely. May you warm up soon!

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Chas Greener July 11, 2019 - 1:04 pm

This post is just want I needed. I’m growing tons of basil and if we don’t use it up before the end of summer I was wanting to know how to preserve it best. Thanks for sharing.

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Suzan Ferreira July 13, 2019 - 11:35 pm

Thank you, Chas! Happy preserving.

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Kelly July 8, 2019 - 3:32 pm

Thank you so much for the great tips! I love growing basil but you definitely gave me some guidance for better yield. Thanks so much for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop. Hope to see more this Wednesday.

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Suzan Ferreira July 8, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Thank you Kelly!

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BonBon June 24, 2019 - 4:20 pm

Thanks for the tips and sharing at Inspire Me Monday. You are one of my features this week. I hope you come by and check it out at https://www.farmhouse40.com/inspire-me-monday-233

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Suzan Ferreira June 25, 2019 - 11:41 am

Thank you so much for the feature! I enjoy this gathering of amazing links every week.

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Eileen June 19, 2019 - 7:18 pm

I used to always have basil in my kitchen window in a little flower pot. I loved the smell, and it was so beautiful and green! I always just used it fresh, but I am definitely going to dry it next time I get some!

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Suzan Ferreira June 20, 2019 - 1:10 pm

Hope you give it a try, Eileen! Thank you for stopping by.

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Katie June 12, 2019 - 6:33 am

Yum! Basil is one of my favorite herbs! We tried cinnamon basil one year, it was interesting! I never knew it was part of the mint family or that they had purple basil out there!

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Suzan Ferreira June 13, 2019 - 11:32 am

Mine too! Purple is such intense, rich anise-flavored basil. Highly recommend giving it a try!

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Amber June 12, 2019 - 3:42 am

I bet your garage / proccessing station smells wonderful

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Suzan Ferreira June 13, 2019 - 11:33 am

It definitely takes on the scent for sure!

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Kyndall Bennett June 11, 2019 - 8:16 pm

I love basil, and the fact you mentioned many herbs being pest deterrents is more than enough to get me to try gardening! Next challenge would be keeping my cats from exploring the growing plants too much!

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Suzan Ferreira June 13, 2019 - 11:35 am

Cats do love to explore! Try spreading orange peels around any plants you don’t want them in. Or better yet, plant some catnip far away from the area to lure them away! Good luck!

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Junell DuBois June 11, 2019 - 7:33 pm

We were just talking about drying out some of our herbs. Our basil plant is getting huge.

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Suzan Ferreira June 13, 2019 - 11:36 am

Cut it back, dry the overage. Your basil plant will love it! They do tend to get “lanky” if let go. Good luck!

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Shirley June 11, 2019 - 2:14 pm

Great tips. I do not grow herbs but I will be sharing this with my daughter-in-law. Thanks!

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Cindy June 11, 2019 - 6:42 am

I love herbs and grow many varieties in my garden. Basil is a favorite! However I do not have a place to dry herbs. No garage. So I use fresh herbs all summer for tea and cooking. I just gathered sprigs of lemon balm this evening for tea!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:12 am

Love fresh as well!

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Annette Durbin June 11, 2019 - 5:14 am

I enjoyed learning the “proper” way to dry basil. I laid mine on a table last year (my first year growing basil). Is there a reason to hang instead of laying? It’s a learning process for sure.

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:13 am

I like to hang so that there is air-flow. I feel this greatly reduces the risk of molding. Thanks for stopping by!

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Jill June 11, 2019 - 4:43 am

I love this. Here’s a question for you — do you find that the older leaves on the plant have a more bitter taste? I’ve started growing basil (along with some other lovely herbs) and feel like the leaves near the bottom of the stem don’t taste as good. But now that I think about it, it’s really probably just me! I’ve got a pretty green thumb with flowers, but not so much with veggies! HAHA!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:15 am

Yes, the older leaves definitely have a different flavor & get tougher. I don’t find that it makes a difference when using the dried…maybe because its all mixed with older and newer leaves?

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Karla June 11, 2019 - 4:08 am

I’ve shared this. I’ve never thought of basil tea. And I’ve never dried mine…. just use it through the season…. and grow more in the kitchen. Pacific Northwest has NO problem with humidity in the winter. 😀

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:16 am

So wish I could have access to fresh year round. Fresh is always best 🙂

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Christina Furnival June 11, 2019 - 3:59 am

I did no grow up eating or using herbs, but as an adult I have grown to love them. Thanks for the guidance!

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Leigh Ann Newman June 11, 2019 - 12:41 am

Suzan – your basil plants are beautiful! I don’t grow much of it on my own, but my mother-in-law has a lemon basil plant that’s been around for more than 80 years and I love it.

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:17 am

Thank you, Leigh Ann!

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Catherine McGuinness June 11, 2019 - 12:04 am

This is a really informative article – I’ve saved it for future reference! Thank you!

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Heather June 10, 2019 - 10:39 pm

I love growing my own basil The smell is the best. I sit on my deck and let the wind push it my way. Love!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:18 am

Nothing like the scent! I find myself bending down when gardening or running my hands through the plant just to smell 🙂

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Angela June 10, 2019 - 7:50 pm

Great tutorial & pictures

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Kymberly Irwin June 10, 2019 - 7:25 pm

My favorite spice! Growing two kinds on the lanai! Best on pizza with fresh mozzarella. And the smell – best smell ever!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:19 am

YES!

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Brittany June 10, 2019 - 7:12 pm

I LOVE growing herbs and especially basil. Each year I enjoy tending to my herb garden. Just something about it =)

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Lisa Manderino June 10, 2019 - 6:41 pm

Great Information! Love Basil!

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Meagan June 10, 2019 - 6:10 pm

I love basil! I’ve never tried to grow it myself though!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:20 am

Give it a try…so easy to grow!

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Shirley June 10, 2019 - 5:31 pm

I love this! I’m not currently growing basil but I’m bookmarking this article for future reference. Thanks!

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Laura June 10, 2019 - 5:00 pm

It’s good to know how to dry herbs. Thanks for the info!

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Stacey June 10, 2019 - 4:49 pm

I’ve never tried growing basil, but now I kind of want to! I agree about the taste and the scent; I do know about eating basil. Now I want to eat some pasta!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:21 am

Definitely give it a try. Grows well in containers too!

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Laura Lee June 10, 2019 - 4:01 pm

I have a brown thumb and everything I grow dies. Maybe I should try herbs first since you said they’re easy to grow. It would probably be a boost to my ego and encourage me to try to grow other things, too. BTW, I love basil!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:22 am

You can do it, Laura! Basil is easy to grow & a great beginner herb to try!

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Suzanne June 10, 2019 - 3:47 pm

What a great idea! We usually grow a few varieties of basil. My husband is more of the gardener than me! I know we’ve grown both Thai basil and purple basil in the past. I think this is the first I’ve heard of Tulsi basil though – I want to see if he’d like to grow it this year as well.

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:22 am

Tulsi has such a unique flavor & scent. You won’t be sorry to give it a try!

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jen June 10, 2019 - 2:35 pm

oooo we just planted two kinds of basil in our planter out front! Can’t wait to harvest!

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Karie June 10, 2019 - 1:59 pm

I love the look of hanging herbs. I can’t wait to get my garden back up.

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Lina June 10, 2019 - 1:41 pm

I love basil and I have never thought to dry them. Thank you so much for this! Love it!

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Haley Kelley June 10, 2019 - 1:22 pm

Always wanted to learn more about using homegrown herbs and am convinced this is the best way! Thanks!

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Angela Greven June 10, 2019 - 12:47 pm

Fabulous, we have been trimming basil too! Although my yield is far smaller than yours so is my growing area lol Due to the high humidity here in SWFL I dry mine in the dining room and it works perfectly. Sharing on FB too thanks so much for this info-packed post!

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Suzan Ferreira June 11, 2019 - 11:25 am

Thank you so much for the share, Angela! Many dry their herbs indoors. Glad that works for you…so wonderful to break open the dried jar of herbs and receive that intense “basil” scent in the middle of the winter!

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