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CategoryHerbs and spices

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Herbs and Spices

Basil is an herb, the green leaves of which are used extensively in a variety of cuisines. It is the basis of Italian pesto sauce, and is also widely used as a garnish.

Varieties[edit | edit source]

See also: w:List of basil cultivars

Sweet basil typically refers to the variety of basil used in Western and Mediterranean cuisines.

Thai basil is used in Thai cuisine. It tastes more like mint or anise than basil, so it is not interchangeable with Italian basil.

Holy basil (or krapow) is also used in Thai cooking, and has a distinctive, hot flavor, quite different from both regular basil and Thai basil. See Holy basil.

Lemon basil is used in Indonesian cooking, eaten raw (often along with with raw vegetables: cabbage, cucumber and long beans) as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck.

Seasonality[edit | edit source]

Seasonality tables|Autumn|Winter|Spring|Summer|All year
Basil Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Northern hemisphere
Southern hemisphere

Summer is basil season. In September (northern hemisphere) the plant will flower, indicating the end of its season. Basil will not survive frost, and thrives on sunlight, but many people manage to grow or keep basil inside during the winter months.

Storing[edit | edit source]

Basil is best used fresh and can usually be bought either as a potted plant, or harvested leaves. The leaves on the potted plant will remain fresh provided the plant itself is well cared for. Harvested leaves will keep only for 1 or 2 days and are best used on the day of purchase, or frozen. The leaves can then be used from frozen in recipes. Basil can also be bought dried and stored in a jar, which is best kept in a cool dark place.

Processing[edit | edit source]

Chopping basil is an inefficient way to release the flavors from its cellular structure. To maximize flavor from chopped Basil, first place it in a ziploc bag, and then pound it with the flat of cleaver or a meat tenderizer. Pound until the leaves appear wet, and then proceed to chopping.

Recipes[edit | edit source]