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Herbs – A World of Basils

  • Posted on January 21, 2012 at 6:00 am

Pictured is one of the many lovely, fragrant and amazingly useful Basils I grew last summer.  I’m not sure if this is cinnamon basil or Thai holy basil, but I know it’s delicious and smells SO good!!

Whether it’s a tender annual or a short-lived perennial in your temperature zone, basil’s a great herb in the garden landscape, the kitchen and can be used to make you feel better via teas, etc.  I just love to be out in the garden, plucking a leaf  and crushing it, releasing the awesome basilness.

My research tells me that there are between 50 and 150 species of basils (all true basils are genus Ocimum species, with the majority of culinary basils cultivars of O. basilicum, or sweet basil with the remainder cultivars of other basil species and a number of hybrid basils.  A historic heirloom herb, basil is native to tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old and New World.

Basil is hardy only in frost-free zones and will turn black with the merest hint of frost or freeze, try to keep it over 50 degrees and give it the full sun and well drained soil it craves while not over-watering.

Some of my favorite Basil Varieties

Sweet basil – standard, probably easiest to grow

Red Rubin – soft purple of Largeleaf Italian, ornamental and sturdy

Globe/Spicy Globe – small round globe shapes

Siam Queen – All American winner, gives a terrific Thai flavor.

Lemon Sweet Dani – robust, with intense lemon fragrance, ideal for seasoning fish and salads.

Cinnamon – good for fuit compote or cheesecake

Lemon or lime – great for teas or cool summer drinks

Largeleaf Italian/Genovese – best for making pesto

clove – adds a spicy warmth to peach cobbler

licorice – anise perks up homemade tomato soup

One of the most popular culinary herbs grown today, it’s best used fresh and added at the end of the cooking process.  The leaves of basil can be very large, or very small with a wide variety of colors and smells.

I’m so excited I’ll be growing quite a bit of basil this next year and experimenting with great recipies and new varieties.

What is your favorite basil?  And what is your favorite recipe made with basil?  If you share with me, I’ll share with you!!

Have a great week,

Hugs, Ellen