Common Name: Sweet Basil
|Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum|
|Plant Type: Herb|
Soil type: loamy
Height : to 51’’
Sweet basil is a type of herb popular in many types of cuisine. A member of the mint family, sweet basil is most often found in Italian cuisine, though it can add flavor and depth to nearly any savory dish. Basil is quite easy to grow and often forms a major part of any herb garden. Basil is easy to grow, but it only grows in the summer, so plan accordingly.
There are many different varieties of basil used in different types of cooking. Thai basil, for instance, has a sharp, spicy taste and is frequently used in the food of Southeast Asia. Lemon basil has a distinct citrus flavor, and may be used as flavoring in Middle Eastern dishes. Sweet basil, found most often in Mediterranean cuisine, has a strong herb flavor but is not as sharp as Thai basil.
Basil can be used as an ingredient on its own or can be blended with other herbs to create a nuanced flavor in a dish. It is one of the main ingredients in pesto, which is a crushed mixture of the herb with pine nuts, garlic and olive oil, used to flavor dishes or as a sauce for pasta or pizza. One popular Italian dish called caprese (#1) uses basil as a whole ingredient, combining fresh basil leaves with tomato slices and mozzarella or bocconcini ball to make a hearty salad.
Sweet basil is also prized in alternative medicine for its potential health benefits. The chemical makeup of the plant contains antioxidant properties, which some medical practitioners believe is beneficial to overall wellness. Sweet basil is also used in alternative treatments for respiratory disorders such as asthma. Some home remedies also include basil oil or extract in the treatment of acne.
- It’s best to use immediately or in the same day.
- To freeze you just have to blanch it first.
- To blanch fresh basil, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a big bowl of ice water ready.
- Once the water is boiling, dip your bunch of basil into it just until the basil wilts. This shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. You don’t want to cook out the flavor of the basil.
- As soon as the basil has wilted, immediately transfer it to the ice water. This eliminates the residual heat that would otherwise continue cooking the basil.
- Pat the blanched basil dry. Strip the leaves off the stems and transfer to freezer bags and freeze. Tip: spread the leaves thinly in the bags and store flat. This will enable you to break off just what you need when you want to use some – but not all – of a bag of frozen herbs.