Fresh basil has heightened flavor, better texture and offers a healthier you.
Buying dried, packaged Basil at the store gives you a sad rendition of this fine cooking herb. About 20 varieties of Basil (Ocimum basilicum) grown today are popular for culinary uses. Some are more pungent flavored than others, working best in different recipes. There is a lot more to basil than cooking Greek and Italian food. There are unique flavored basils and those used in different nationality cuisine.
Oils of fresh basil have been found to be beneficial to your health.
Recent scientific studies have found that the compounds found in the oil of fresh basil have potent antioxidant properties. This means that fresh basil has the natural ability to help your body fight off aging, cancer, and unwanted viruses or microbes.
Basil’s heady aroma and strong flavor is essential to cooking.
The smell and flavor come from them being loaded with volatile oils. The composition of oils varies greatly in different basil types, thus accounting for the wide range of scents available. Deciding which exciting basil you can harvest from your indoor garden will not be easy. To get you started, we have compiled the following basil variety descriptions:
Lettuce Leaf Basil
Ocimum basilicum “Lettuce Leaf” … Leaves are so large they are sometimes used in making salads. (18-24” tall)
(Anise Basil and Persian Basil are the same plant.)
Ocimum basilicum ‘Licorice’ … This one has silvery leaves and a spicy licorice scent. Sometimes referred to as Thai Basil. Contains the same oil as anise itself. (12-18” tall)
Thai Lemon Basil
Ocimum basilicum var. citriodorum … Attractive, spreading silver-green plants. Lemony aroma and flavor for potpourris, tea, chicken, fish, vegetables and herb vinegars. Try brewing a delicious, herby tea. A native plant in northwest India and is excellent for exotic Asian dishes. (12-18″ tall)
Ocimum basilicum … The most common basil with a clove-like scent. Use as a flavoring for tomatoes or mild-flavored vegetables. Basil is excellent flavoring for veal and lamb. (12-18″ tall)
Fino Verde Basil
Ocimum basilicum piccolo … Leaves are small and narrow but sweeter, spicier flavored with a less pungent smell than Sweet Basil. This one is easier to cook with as the stems are soft and don’t need to be removed before using. (12” tall)
Spicy Globe Basil
(Also known as Greek Basil and Bush Basil.)
Ocimum basilicum ‘Spicy Globe’ … Tiny leaves with strong flavor from a dwarf plant that naturally grows in well-rounded mounds. (8” tall)
Purple Ruffles Basil
Ocimum basilicum ‘Purple Ruffles’ … Frilly ruffled purple leaves are quite large and fragrant. Flavor is stronger than Sweet Basil, but milder than Green Ruffles. Adds color & flavor to herb vinegars. (12-18″ tall)
Green Ruffles Basil
Ocimum basilicum ‘Green Ruffles’ … Has large, quilted leaves with a serrated edge. Try this one in lettuce or mesclun salads the flavor is not overpowering. (24″ tall)
Ocimum americanum ‘Lime’ … A rare and hard to fine seed variety. Sweet and fragrant with a mild citrus taste is perfect paired with Lemon Basil. The tangy fresh flavor is like a cross between Thai Basil and kaffir lime. A unique, surprising flavor used in seafood and poultry dishes. Makes a great addition to sauces, dressings and even desserts. (16-24″ tall)
(Also known as Hoary Basil.)
Ocimum americanum … Citrus scented with a sweeter flavor. It is suggested for brewing in herb teas or for blending into potpourris. (16-24″ tall)
(Mexican Spice Basil is the same plant.)
Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’ … Unique cinnamon flavor and fragrance is best used in soups, sauces and salads. Makes a good substitute for Licorice Basil in authentic Thai cuisine with a slightly different twist. Good choice to garnish seafood as rich scent masks pungent fishy odors. (24-36” tall)
Dark Opal Basil
Ocimum basilicum “Purpurascens” … The darkest leaf of all purple basils is an award winning variety. Offers the best choice for flavoring oils and vinegars. Purple-black leaves are about 2 inches long. Use in tomato dishes, pasta sauces, vegetables and soups. (24” tall)
Ocimum basilicum var. minimum … This is classic French basil with very small leaves that are loaded with pungent flavor. The medium green leaves are only 1/2 inch long. (12” tall)
Large Leaf Italian Basil
Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese Gigante’ … The Authentic Neapolitan Basil: regarded as the essential ingredient for pesto. To create true Neapolitan cuisine this is the basil you need. The dark green, shiny leaves grow up to 3 inches long. Flavor is similar to Sweet Basil. (18-24” tall)
Siam Queen Basil
O. basilicum var. thyrsiflorum ‘Siam Queen’ … A beautiful plant loaded with huge 4” long exotic licorice flavored leaves. Anise type basils are perfect for Thai recipes. (30-40” tall)
Ocimum basilicum ‘Marseille’… The most aromatic basil of all is this legendary French variety. A dwarf plant with leaves larger than most other varieties. Nicely branched allows big harvest from very little space. (8” tall)
Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil
Ocimum basilicum var. citriodora ‘Mrs. Burns’ Lemon’ … This is the very best lemon basil bearing larger leaves that pack a more intense citrus note. (18-24” tall)Share
Tags: basil, Cinnamon Basil, Dark Opal Basil, Fino Verde Basil, Green Ruffles Basil, Large Leaf Italian Basil, Lemon Basil, Lettuce Leaf Basil, Licorice Basil, Lime Basil, Marseille Basil, Minimum Basil, Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil, Purple Ruffles Basil, Siam Queen Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, Sweet Basil, Thai Lemon Basil
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