The most loved traditional Italian variety for cooking with a rich, hearty taste that is treasured in pasta sauces. Also used in pesto, along with the Genovese variety. One of the three ingredients in the traditional Margherita pizza. Aromatic and delightful with a heady scent, it can easily become habit-forming in the warmer months in salads, sauces, egg dishes and appetizers.
A fast growing, prolific producer with large, thick, aromatic leaves it does well in hot weather and can be harvested several times until the weather turns cool.
In Italy, a pot of basil is a sign of love; in France it is called herbe royale – the royal herb. Linked irrevocably with Italy and the Mediterranean, basil originated in India and was brought over the spice routes in ancient times.
The peak flavor experience is fresh from the garden and used soon after, though it retains its unique flavors and aromas well when made into pesto and frozen. Drying is a last resort, as it loses most of the aromatic oils. But we have found that basil dried from your garden is so much more flavorful than commercial dried basil.
Basil does well with asparagus and helps tomatoes overcome pest insects and disease while improving growth and flavor of both. It is best to grow the shorter basil plants alongside or parallel to the tomato plants instead of among them in their shade.
Peppers – both sweet and hot – like basil alongside them, as does beans, beets, cabbage, and eggplant. Herbs that like basil nearby are oregano and chamomile.
Basil repels mosquitoes and most flies, so keep a couple of planted pots near doorways and entrances.
Common rue and sage are antagonistic to basil, so don’t plant them near each other.
When basil starts to flower, it will stop growing leaves – so pinch the flower heads off to encourage new leaf growth.
- All About Basil
- Heirloom Basil - So Much More Than Pesto
- Easy Homemade Basil Pesto
- Fresh Heirloom Basil Recipes
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