Basil – Grech & Borg

What is it?

A member of the mint family this sprucey, rich and fragrant herb is used world wide in a variety of ways. As it ranges from sweeter more subtle flavouring to spicy basils such as Thai basil, this herb is used best as complimentary additive.

Origins

Some of the earliest evidence of basil usage dates back to the ancient Egyptians, as it is thought that they used it to for embalming during the mummification process. Also during the development of Ayurveda medicine in India, basil is thought to have a positive impact on the respiratory tract. It hasn't all been positive though, basil has definitely had negative links to it such as the ancient Greek's who had understood the herb to be a symbol of hate.

Modern use of basil

Now, mostly known for its fresh flavourful uses in cooking, basil is often tossed in at the end of a dish retaining its full aromatic properties. Basil is used a lot throughout European cuisines, such as Italian and German. Across Asia, the spicier flavoured Thai basil is more widely commonly used by being sprinkled into a range of different soups and stir fries. The western world has adopted all traditional uses of basil including uses in anything from fresh salads to pasta sauces. It should also be noted that the oil of basil is extracted into an essential oil and used for its antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

Growing Basil

Basil seeds are tiny, so it is best that they are sewed in with a light covering. They can be expected to grow in the range of 12-20inches and should be planted 1 foot apart in rows, or 1 foot away from other herbs at home, or in a seperate pot plant is fine too. Basil loves tropical weather and should be planted in spring in most cases. Harvest times are optimal in summer, and as the white flowers begin to develop on the plant the leaves will begin to lose flavour.

Basil tips

  • Cooking basil can quickly remove the flavour, usually you want to put your basil in your dish quite late.
  • It is a soft plant that easily bruises, always put it on top when packing grocery bags, shopping carts or the fridge.
  • Once picked, basil survives the best in a low humidity low temperature environment.
  • Don't cut the leaves, tear them, cutting can lead to bruising and ultimately a loss in flavour.
  • Basil can be dried out in thew oven very easily. This is a great option for someone who is growing there own basil and would like to use it year round!