7 Types of Basil Plants
1. Genovese BasilThe most common variety – easily accessible from a local home improvement store. Also known as sweet basil. Large leaves with intense flavor and a wonderful aroma. Commonly used in the aforementioned, Genovese sauce. Produces white flowers. By pinching out any flowering heads, the plant will continue to produce fragrant leaves until early Autumn.
2. Thai BasilHas a slightly spicier flavor with licorice undertones. Works well in Asian dishes because it is native to Southeast Asia. Produces narrow leaves, purple stems, and pink-purple flowers.
3. Cinnamon BasilJust as its variety name indicates, it tastes like standard basil laced with cinnamon. Ideal for for ice cream and desserts. Also known as Mexican Spice Basil. Difficult to find in the United States. Beautiful ornamental annual because of its small, pink to purple flowers from July to September, in warm climates.
4. African Blue BasilA type which can be a perennial in year-round warm climates. African blue basil starts out purple when young, only growing green as the leaves grow to full size, and even then retaining purple veins. All parts of the plant are edible. Popular to steep for tea.
5. Lemon BasilA hybrid grown primarily in northeastern Africa and southern Asia, enjoyed for its fragrant lemon scent. It has white flowers in late summer to early fall and the leaves are slightly serrated. Popular in Indonesian dishes, it can be used in any dish where lemon is a component.
6. Lettuce Leaf BasilSome retail nurseries carry this variety. It’s crinkly leaves are very aromatic and fresh tasting. Great for wrapping fish; chopping into a salad; or freshening up a rice dish.
7. Micro Opal BasilIs a micro-green packing a powerful punch. With hints of lemon and lime notes, it has a crunchy, velvety texture – great on salads. Difficult to find except for specialty cultivators, specializing in micro-greens.
Growing BasilBased on MY experience, Basil is relatively easy annual to grow. I typically start from seedling (small, baby plant), planting in the spring, once the ground is warm. Depending upon the variety, some can grow up to 24-inches tall, so plan accordingly. It is because of their height, I have found the best success by planting in a deep pot, such as 24″ deep, to allow for good roots. Although I grow in a container, I still wait till the ground is warm – approximately two weeks after 40º nights. Do not overcrowd the pot. I only plant (2) seedlings per 18″ diameter pot. Basil loves full sun; in well-drained soil because its roots cannot sit in water. Semi-rich nutrient soil with a pH level of 6-7 is good. Consider fertilizing once a month if you water frequently. You do not want the soil to become dry and crumbly. Because I live in zone 7, I usually water twice a week – if no rainfall.
Medicinal Uses for BasilBecause basil contains antispasmodic agents, a standard infusion of fresh basil leaves can help with indigestion and constipation, adding honey and lemon, it eases chest congestion and bronchitis. According to John Lust’s, The Herb Book, steep 1 tsp of dried basil in 1/2 cup of water. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups each day, a mouthful at a time. I think I will just incorporate my vinaigrette recipe on my salad…
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves = 1 ounce
- 1/4 cup roasted garlic
- 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Put basil, garlic, Parmesan and vinegar in a blender. Cover and blend till thoroughly combined.
- With the blender running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream through and open lid.
- Transfer to a small bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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