Name: Basil

Latin Name: Ocimum basilicum

Description

Basil is a leafy, fragrant annual with a bushy appearance. The most common type of basil is sweet basil.

The round, often pointed leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods but has become ever popular as the main ingredient in pesto, the mixture of basil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

There are more than 60 varieties of basil, all of which differ somewhat in appearance and taste. While the taste of sweet basil is bright and pungent, other varieties also offer unique tastes: lemon basil, anise basil and cinnamon basil all have flavors that subtly reflect their name. The scientific name for basil is Ocimum basilicum.

 

Cooking

Whenever possible, choose fresh basil over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavour. The leaves of fresh basil should look vibrant and be deep green in color. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.

Fresh basil should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers.

Health Benefits

Basil contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin.

Basil leaves compose of several health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene and terpineol. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

*It is the policy of www.LoveHerbs.ie not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use.  This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.  Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for advice if you suffer with an illness, symptom or health issue.

History & Tradition

Basil now grows in many regions throughout the world, but it was first native to India, Asia and Africa. It is prominently featured in varied cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian.