Growing Basil

July 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) is an annual herb closely identified with Italian cooking, and many believe it is originally from India. Basil originates from Africa and Asia and is thought to have been another one of the herbs that Alexander the Great brought to Greece in about 350 BC, from where it spread over Europe.


Today there are dozens of different basil varieties, with many exotic scents and flavors. I am a basil lover, and both me and JD love pesto, so I grow Cinnamon Basil, Basilico Limone, Grand Leaf Basil, Small Leaf Basil, Basilico Violetto Aromatico, Aromatique Basilic, and your regular “normal” variety.

Sowing

Sow basil in a propagator or directly in a pot. Although basil will grow best outdoors it can be grown indoors in a pot and like most herbs will do best on a south facing windowsill. They like full sun, so I pot ’em and park ’em right outside.

Maintenance

It will need regular watering but not as much attention as is needed in other climates than we have here in Bretagne. Prevent basil from blooming for as long as possible, by harvesting or pinching off the top sets of leaves as soon as the plant reaches mature height, depending on variety. If the plant flowers, it is going to seed, and it will have less harvestable leaves. Also, its flavor diminishes.

Harvesting

Pinch off individual leaves or take the tops off of large plants when needing a larger amount.

Fresh basil can be kept frozen, either whole or chopped. Blanch whole leaves for two seconds, plunge into ice water, pat dry and place in airtight bags in the freezer. The flavor will be stronger if you do not thaw before using.

Remedies

For fighting common cold and/or removing phlegm in chest, put 300 gr leaves in 1 liter water. Bring to boil and simmer until volume is halved. Take twice a day (15 – 30 ml for adults, two teaspoonful for kids).

For curing indigestion, add ginger or dried ginger or Bishop’s weed while preparing the above mentioned pouring. Take twice a day.

To stop a headache, chew and swallow 5 basil leaves.

Recipes

Can be added raw to salads, sandwiches or used in cooked dishes, such as pasta with tomato and basil sauce.

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