Basil beautifies the garden of many households.
She is extremely healthy! It surpasses even the most well-known fruit in its vitamin content.
What can it heal?
In which recipes do they definitely belong?
Read all about this herb!
What is true basil?
True basil ( Ocimum basilicum ) belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which also includes rosemary, sage and lavender. This kitchen herb is also known as large basil or bush basil.
Basil is grown as an annual plant in temperate climates, while in tropical regions it grows as a perennial. It originates from India and ancient civilizations attributed magical powers to it. It was considered a strong antidote for scorpion stings or snake bites. In Egypt, basil was used as an embalming and preservative herb, so it was a very important part of mummification.
Nowadays, basil is most often used in Italian and Asian cuisine.
How to recognize basil?
There are more than 150 different varieties of basil, and due to breeding ambitions, this number continues to rise steeply.
Depending on the specific variety, basil leaves can be:
|small (3-5 cm)||large (8-11 cm)|
|green (light, dark)||purple to black|
Basil aroma is generally compared to a combination of anise, clove, cinnamon and lemon. However, each of the varieties offers a different specific aroma and taste. Some smell like licorice and others smell like menthol or citrus.
Basic types of basil : sweet basil, dwarf basil, purple basil and basil with a specific aroma (lemon, lime, cinnamon…).
Sweet basil, also called salad basil
- is the basis of Italian cuisine
- leaves are pale green, wrinkled and wrinkled, large – up to 12 cm long and 7 cm wide
- this type of basil is known in European countries under the general term “basil”
- it has a mild, slightly spicy anise flavor
- it grows primarily in width and is used as an ornamental plant
- the leaves are almost round in shape, deep green, smooth and small, 3-5 cm
- this basil has such small leaves that they are usually not even cut and are used whole (to sprinkle on salads or appetizers)
- it tastes very specific, its aroma is with notes of anise and ginger
- is a very popular culinary and ornamental variety
- the leaves are smooth, pointed and about 7 cm long
- has a sweet herbal taste that resembles a combination of anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and mint
- is one of the most modern varieties, as well as, for example, cinnamon or lemon basil
- the leaves are bright pale green, smooth and up to 10 cm long
- this type of basil is used as a natural repellent against insects, i.e. it is planted as an ornamental plant near terraces, pools and pergolas
- as the name itself suggests, the taste is strongly lime with subtle notes of mint and pepper
Medicinal effects of basil
Preliminary scientific research suggests that basil:
- it is beneficial for a healthy memory and prevents its loss also in connection with aging
- supports brain recovery after a stroke
- helps maintain stable blood pressure, thus preventing hypertension
- just as aspirin thins blood and relaxes blood vessels, it is suitable for people who have had a heart attack
- prevents tooth decay
- it also treats infections caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics
Basil is a great source of vitamin K, which helps heal wounds and burns, among other things. There is also a relatively large amount of iron, manganese and calcium in basil.
| Fresh leaves, sliced|
2 tablespoons (5.3 g)
| Dried leaves, crushed|
1 tablespoon (4.5 g)
|Vitamin K||22% of DDP||81% of DDP|
|Calcium||1% DDP||10% VAT|
|Iron||1.5% DDP||40% DDP|
|Manganese||0.6% DDP||4% of VAT|
Vitamin K content of the most common fruit (for comparison with dried basil):
- 100 g raw avocado – 22% DDP
- 100 g raw apple – 2% DDP
- 100 g raw blueberries – 20% DDP
Basil in traditional medicine
Holy basil, or Tusil , has been used in traditional medicine and Ayurveda for centuries. This is a very old variety of basil, which is even worshiped in several religions for its medicinal effects.
A tea or decoction is usually made for medicinal use. According to Ayurvedic medicine, it is most effective if it is prepared from whole plants, including flowers.
You can prepare it too!
- Prepare 3 teaspoons of dried holy basil.
- Pour a liter of water into the pot and bring to a boil,
- Pour the basil into the boiling water and immediately remove the pot from the heat.
- Cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 6 min.
- Use the tea/decoction as needed.
What is basil decoction good for?
- It is suitable for local treatment of acne, but also helps with eczema and other rashes.
- It is used as a hair wrap, prevents hair loss, prevents dry scalp and reduces the formation of dandruff.
- It soothes irritated eyes and even relieves the symptoms of conjunctivitis or stye.
- It helps remove nicotine from the body faster and prevents the taste for cigarettes (chewing the leaves of holy basil itself has a similar effect).
- It is a natural repellent, repels not only common insects (mosquitoes and flies) but also ticks.
What to combine basil with?
Basil goes well with pistachios, walnuts, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peas, artichokes, radishes, peppers, garlic and onions.
It is also excellent with fruit, mainly lemon, lime, strawberries, raspberries, pears, watermelon, mango, avocado, sour cherries and cherries.
It is also combined with other herbs and spices, namely ginger, mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, coriander and lemon grass.
Basil in recipes
- Fresh basil is commonly added to vegetable or cheese salads. The traditional Italian Caprese salad, for example, consists of just four ingredients: mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil and whole basil leaves.
- In Italy, basil is a truly indispensable ingredient, especially for the production of traditional basil pesto . Pesto is one of the most popular sauces for Italian pasta and not only that – it is also used as a pizza base instead of cream or tomatoes.
- During the avocado boom that took place in recent years, the popularity of basil also increased, which complements it perfectly in taste. Get inspired by recipes for avocado spreads and try one of the most popular – avocado spread with garlic and basil.
- Of course, meat, including fish, can also be flavored with basil. It is suitable for baking, frying, stewing and grilling. It is best combined with oil as a marinade. Read how to properly marinate meat and make your favorite recipes even better!
- Basil is also an integral part of Asian cuisine. It can be found intraditional fried rice recipes and is also popularly used to flavor the Vietnamese Pho soup , which you should definitely try!
Dried versus fresh basil
Basil is most delicious when fresh. It is most often chopped and sliced, but it is also commonly crushed in a mortar. Dried basil is used minimally in recipes and only in cases where there is no other option.
Basil is added to the dish only in the last step of cooking, so that it does not undergo heat treatment and thus does not lose not only its color, but also its taste.
If you want to use dried basil instead of fresh basil in the recipe, you need to adjust the required amount. Dried basil is more concentrated, i.e. more aromatic.
|Fresh basil||Dried basil|
|1 tablespoon||0.5 teaspoons|
|1.5 tbsp||1 teaspoon|
|2 tbsp||1.5 teaspoons|
|2.5 tbsp||2 teaspoons|
|3 tbsp||2.5 teaspoons|
You can put freshly picked basil leaves in a glass of water and keep them in the fridge, where they will last up to one week. Basil can also be dried, crushed and then stored in resealable containers, just like most spices. However, during drying, basil loses most of its specific aroma and taste.
How else to store basil? Another method of storage is the production of basil oil. It will last a maximum of 3 days in the fridge, but you can freeze it in ice molds. You can then add the frozen basil cubes directly to the pot or pan, there is no need to thaw them first.
- 4 cups of basil leaves
- 100 ml of olive oil
- Wash the basil leaves properly and dry them carefully. Feel free to leave them on the grate or in a colander to drain overnight.
- Mix best in a hand mixer, first the basil – finely, almost to a puree. Then add the olive oil and mix together again.
- Pour the olive oil prepared in this way into ice molds and freeze. Alternatively, store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Work the basil into the herb butter! You can store it in the fridge for up to 2 months and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Try a classic that everyone will enjoy –the preparation of herb butter is very simple, even a complete beginner can handle it.
Where to place basil to thrive?
Basil likes light and heat. It also does very well at home on a windowsill, preferably on an east or west window.
Basil does not tolerate drought, so it should not be placed in open and windy places where the soil dries out faster.
Basil plants are only planted when there is no longer any threat of frost – so it is no exception that in some years they appear in gardens only in June.
Basil is harvested just before it is in full bloom. It is at that moment that the leaves contain the most aromatic oils. This is usually in late June or early July, as soon as the first white flowers appear.