BASIL — Eat Some Today!
Source: The Thyme Garden
I’m growing five kinds of basil in my garden this year and the Fiends eat some almost every day. Here’s a nice article about this tasty herb from The Thyme Garden a seed supply store.
Posted by: Elizabeth Fiend
There are about 150 species of basil native to areas of Asia, Africa, Central America and South America. It is believed that Alexander the Great introduced the herb to Greece after returning from his Asian campaign. Basil was considered by the early Greeks as the herb of kings. The Romans thought it a symbol of love (and it is still considered an aphrodisiac) and even to this day Tulsi Basil is considered holy and sacred to Hindus. Cultivated for more than 5000 years, basil was once used by Egyptians as an embalming herb in the mummification process.
Today basil is primarily used as a choice culinary herb in dishes ranging from Italian to Thai. One of the best characteristics of basil is that it seems to actually like being used; pinching off leaves keeps the plant from going into seed production and stimulates growth. Don’t be afraid to pinch off the growing tips – it will make your plants bushier.
There are several different species of basil that have many different cultivars selected for desirable characteristics. For example, the Sweet Basils are what we generally think of as regular basil, the kind you generally find in the store and would use in spaghetti sauce and things of that nature. They can be green or purple. Green sweet basils that we offer are Baja, Blue Spice, Di Genova, Emily, Genovese, Italian Large Leaf, Mammoth ‘Napoletano’ and just plain Sweet Basil. They also come in bush types such as Bush ‘Marseillais’, Minette, and Spicy Globe. These miniature leaved types are decorative as well as culinary. It would be a tough choice, but if I was forced to choose just one sweet basil to grow, I would go with the Genovese Basil because the leaves are large, the flavor is wonderful, and it seems to withstand our Oregon weather of on and off again summer heat.
Rolfe’s favorite new introduction is the Amethyst Basil, which is by far the purplest basil he’s seen. It has a true sweet basil flavor and is a robust grower. Other purple sweet basil types are Dark Opal, Osmin, Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin, and Rosie Basil.
As I mentioned above, basil is used extensively in Thai cooking and in foods of the Pacific Rim including the Vietnamese dish Pho. The Thai basils are a little different in appearance and flavor. They tend to have smaller leaves that are pointed and edged with purple. The flavor is spicier, with more cinnamon and anise tones. I love Thai basils as garnish and in fruit salad. The Thai basils we offer are Queenette, Siam Queen, and Thai Basil (also known as Asian or Anise Basil.)
There are still other types of basil: Ararat, Cinnamon, Lemon Basil (Mrs. Burns), Lime, Licorice, and East Indian (also known as Tree Basil), Magical Michael, New Guinea, and Serata that all have their own unique flavors and growth habits.