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Basil is an annual herb with a pleasant taste and aroma, widely used in cosmetology, medicine and cooking.
Basil is known to many as the sweet or red cornflower, and it is found under the name of raikhon (reagan).
It is known to housewives as a seasoning in meat dishes, soups, salads, and is famous for its aroma, which basil keeps fresh, frozen and dried.
Dried basil goes well with rosemary, tarragon, garlic, sage. Basil is served with salads, beans, rice, meat, vegetables and fish.
Dried basil is added to stews, pea and bean soups. In Poland, basil is used not only for scrambled eggs or meat, but also cottage cheese and even yogurt.
Basil is rich in vitamins and surpasses mint in aroma. Basil can flavor vegetable oil and vinegar. The energy value of dried basil is 250 Kcal per 100 grams.
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The benefits of basil
More than 35 types of basil are found in nature. Originally from East India, basil is known in many countries, both in Asia and in Europe.
There is even a proverb in Transcaucasia: "He who chews basil lives a long time."
Europeans grow basil with green leaves, while Asians grow purple ones ("reagan").
Italians prefer Neapolitan basil (basilico napoletano) for pesto sauce and Genoese basil (basilico genovese) for salads.
Basil, which has a wound healing, anti-inflammatory, astringent and cleansing effect, is used to treat bronchitis, prolonged cough, stomach catarrh, to heal wounds and to treat headaches. Despite its many advantages, basil has contraindications.
It should not be used for ischemic heart disease, thrombophlebitis, myocardial infarction and hypertension.
How to dry basil so that it retains all its beneficial properties as much as possible?
Basil leaves are cut throughout the summer and cut before or during flowering, when the flower contains the most trace elements and aromatic substances, and the basil stems are not yet coarse. ,
Basil is usually harvested twice, in July and at the end of September, when the second harvest grows.
Basil can be harvested by drying and freezing. Basil leaves are dried in several ways. Good air circulation, warmth and shade are the prerequisites for proper drying.
Basil is most often dried in a dark, well-ventilated area, outdoors, or outdoors.
Before drying the basil, some wash the basil, cut and dry it with leaves, others dry it in a bunch (bush). Dried basil loses up to 80 percent moisture.
Basil, like other plants, with a large amount of essential oils, must be dried slowly, at a temperature no higher than 35-45 degrees.
At high temperatures, essential oils evaporate, and basil, dried in this way, retains little smell. Dried basil can smell like hay from poor ventilation and high humidity.
Bunch drying basil (bush)
You can dry the basil "bush" by hanging the cut tops of the basil shoots in small bunches near the kitchen window, near the stove, in a dark shed, under a canopy or in the attic, where the place is well ventilated and there is no sun.
It should be noted that even with a slight heat treatment, basil loses its aroma. Therefore, when drying basil in the oven, the temperature in the oven should not be higher than 43 degrees.
Otherwise, basil will lose all its aroma and nutrients. It is better to dry the basil in the oven, stirring, with the door ajar for about an hour, and then leave it in the oven until morning.
It is very good to dry basil on a clean window mesh. For better circulation, window screens with raw materials should be placed separately and not overlapped.
Instead of a window mesh, you can lay out the basil leaves to dry on clean gauze stretched over the frame.
Drying basil in the microwave has become a modern convenient method of drying, where it takes only a few minutes for the leaves to dry out and not lose their properties and aroma.
Drying in a microwave oven takes about 3-4 minutes at 700W. Remove the dried leaves carefully, the plate may be hot!
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How to dry basil leaf
If you decide to dry basil with leaves, then you need to lay them out in one thin layer, not on the newspaper, but either on clean sheets of paper, on a paper towel, on a cloth or on a baking sheet.
The leaves can be covered with gauze to protect against dust and blowing off, but it is very important that it does not obstruct air circulation.
Basil leaves can wither under a cloth, and the taste and smell can change.
An original and effective way to dry basil was "drying in the refrigerator" on paper napkins or on foam trays.
Cold draws water well, food dries in the refrigerator even without a film.
Both color and smell are perfectly preserved. Depending on the intensity of cooling, the basil leaves are dried after 5-7 times.
Drying with a hair dryer or using an electric dryer, a special dryer for vegetables and fruits, is considered an uncommon, but interesting way to dry basil.
How to store basil
Basil is dried for about 5 to 13 days, depending on the humidity of the air and the season.
After 2 weeks, you need to remove the dried branches, separate the dried basil leaves from the branches, and discard the sticks.
If the basil leaves have been dried whole, then it is better to grind them.
The dried leaves should be easily pulverized with your fingers.
Dry basil leaves should be stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container, preferably in a tightly closed glass or opaque jar or in a cloth bag.
Some people store dried basil in paper bags or in a gauze bag. With constant contact with air, the smell of basil evaporates.
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Basil greens can be not only dried, but also frozen by simply chopping the basil into small pieces with a knife, putting them in zippered bags, and placing them in the freezer. So basil can be stored for up to a year, and the smell of basil is perfectly preserved.
We have considered many ways to harvest basil, allowing you to maximize its beneficial properties.
We hope that the tips in this article will help you preserve the harvest of basil, which will bring health to you and your family all year round.