Talk about fresh fragrance and intense flavour! Of course, fresh is always better with culinary herbs. Basil’s captivating spicy-sweet aroma is a cross between licorice and clover – so lovely that it is commonly used as a base note in perfumes. Being one of the most popular herbs, it now has many varieties available:
- Sweet basil is commonly used for Italian cooking
- Purple-leaf basil is pungent and spicy, a terrific last-second addition to Asian-style soups and stir-fries
- Small-leafed basil has a sweet, lemon-like flavour
- Larger leaves will have less flavor and are usually added to lettuce salads.
It is no coincidence that this round, somewhat pointed leaved plant looks a lot like peppermint since they are related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods.
HOW TO CHOOSE
Usually available year-round.
Choose evenly coloured leaves with no indication of wilting or brown spots. Gently rub a leaf to release the oils. That way you`ll see if it is full of sweet and citrus aromas or a more spicy fragrance.
Refrigerate, wrapped in barely damp paper towels and then in a plastic bag, for up to four days. Storage may be extended for up to a week by refrigerating the herb set it in a glass of water, stems down, and put a plastic bag over the leaves, changing the water every two days.
To preserve, wash and dry leaves thoroughly. Then alternate layers of leaves with coarse salt in an airtight container to keep in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
Please Note: Basil does not freeze very well.
Rinse. Only the leaves are used. Discard the stems. When chopping, always use a sharp knife to minimize bruising the herb.
You may want to consider preparing an extremely useful paste or puree (i.e. with garlic) , either by hand or with an electric blender.
Basil can be eaten fresh and can be cooked. Use it in salads, sauces, and soups. Frequently used in savoury dishes, including poultry, fish, eggs and tomato-based Italian cuisine, add delicately flavoured herbs toward the end of cooking for maximum flavour and aroma.
Complimentary Serving Suggestions
- Basil goes well with summer vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, corn, and baby potatoes
- Try it as a pesto, herb bread, or throwing a handful into a bowl of strawberries or fruit salads
- Combines nicely with thyme and marjoram.
Basil is also a good source of flavonoids, magnesium, iron, and calcium, as well as potassium and vitamin C.
Essential oil of basil, obtained from its leaves, has demonstrated the ability to inhibit several species of infectious bacteria, for instance, that activates diarrhea and may cause serious intestinal damage.
Basil (fresh), 5 leaves (2.50g)
Total Fat: 0.015g