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Utilizing herbs fresh from the garden is the ideal source for home cooks, however, during the colder months, many gardeners are unable to grow basil and must rely on preserving their precious herb. Readers of Ladybud Magazine are most likely familiar with the drying of cannabis, and basil can be saved in a very similar process.
Preserving basil is easy and can be achieved through many methods, including air drying (much like cannabis), dehydrating or sun or oven drying. This article will focus on a large batch of basil we are saving for winter by utilizing the air drying method with simple clips of varying sizes. There is no need to purchase special or expensive equipment as gardeners and home as well as professional cooks have been drying herbs for centuries.
The basil used in this example was grown in the Salt Lake Valley in Gradi’s Organic Garden and needed to be harvested prior to any threat of freeze as basil will turn black and die almost overnight if it gets cold enough. We were fortunate enough to grow a large batch of basil this year, from seed and completely organically.
We started with clipping the basil, using sharp clippers as these plants are large enough to sport heavy, wooden branches.
We harvested all of the branches from one plant, washed it carefully and hung it to dry on our wine rack, with simple clips. The wine rack is located in the kitchen and provided a convenient location to hang the basil, with good air circulation (from a ceiling fan and patio door), which is required to prevent mold or diseases.
By drying the basil for 2-3 weeks (after all of the leaves turn brown) then crumbling the dried leaves and storing them in a sealed jar or plastic bags, every home cook can access organic basil from their own gardens, year round.
The nutritional benefits of basil (according to WebMd) include treatment of the common cold, influenza (“the flu”), H1N1 (swine) flu, diabetes,asthma, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, stress, and tuberculosis. It is also used to treat mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract snake and scorpion bites.
Making a nice batch of marinara (medicated marinara, even better) with some basil from the garden and some fresh pasta or gnocchi (click this link for a recipe for medicated gnocchi) in the middle of winter can help chase away the cold any day!
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Photo Credit: Gradi Jordan