C-Farm Fresh: Beginning with Basil

Herb Garden2

I would have to say basil is my favorite herb; it is so versatile and there are so many varieties of this wonderful fragrant leaf.  I even had a catering company over 25 years ago in Boulder Colorado, which my business partner and I named “Sweet Basils Catering.”  As you can see from the pictures above, it is time to harvest some of this.

Basil, originally from India, but best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine as well as Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Taiwan.  A leafy herb from the mint family with a licorice-clove flavor, it has a strong, pungent, often sweet smell. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, all of which differ somewhat in appearance and taste. Basil is usually green, though there are purple varieties, such as Opal Basil. Lemon basil, anise basil, clove basil and cinnamon basil all have flavors similar to their names. The type used in Italian food is typically sweet basil, as opposed to Thai, lemon and holy, which are used in Asia. Basil is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking.

The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royalty or king,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.

How to store: Refrigerate wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic bag for up to 4 days or stems down in a glass of water with plastic over the leaves for about a week with regular water changing. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the basil in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried basil should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place, where it will keep fresh for about six months.

Below are five basils from my garden

Spicy Globe Basil

Spicy Globe Basil

Purple Basil

Purple Basil

Thai Basil

Thai Basil

Greek Columnar Basil

Greek Columnar Basil

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

(L-R: Spicy Globe Basil; Thai Basil; Purple Basil; Greek Columnar Basil; Sweet Basil)

Later this week I will harvest the basil plants and make pesto as well as other great creations…..more to follow!