Cooking With Fresh Basil

If you have cooked a Mediterranean (Italian, Greek, North African among other country’s in the region) or Thai dish, then you may already know a few things about basil.

It’s one of the world’s most popular herbs and can be used in a wide range of cooking methods.

Fresh basil has a strong pleasant odor. It’s a classified member of the mint family, also an aromatic herb.

Basil is not only fragrant for making tea, but also for adding flavor to salads and savory dishes.

There are so many varieties of basil besides the Thai and sweet basil varieties readily available at the market. Some of these include among others…

  • Genovese Basil
  • Napoletano Basil
  • Italian Large Leaf Basil
  • African Blue Basil
  • Lettuce Leaf Basil
  • Dark Opal Basil
  • Purple Ruffles Basil
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Lemon Basil

Cooking With Fresh Basil

The flavor of fresh basil does not endure long cooking times very well when compared to other herbs like oregano or thyme.

To prevent loss of flavor, you should add fresh basil later in the cooking process than you would most other herbs.

It is recommend adding fresh basil as late as the last 60 seconds of cooking.

Dried basil can be used at the start of cooking. Like with this Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon.

Cook’s Notes

Basil leaves should be torn by hand as a knife’s edge will blacken the basil leaves, making it less attractive in raw preparations.

A Cup Of Torn Basil Lesves

Spices & Herbs That Pair Well With Basil

Basil pairs well with most common flavorful culinary herbs and spices. These many different flavors include, among many:

Black Pepper – Capers – Chives

Cilantro – Cinnamon – Garlic

Oregon – Lemongrass – Marjoram

Mint – Parsley – Rosemary – Thyme

Choosing The Right Basil

Use sweet basil primarily for European dishes, particularly those from the Mediterranean region. Try these dishes with sweet basil…

If you are making Thai dishes, you will want to opt for Thai basil. Like with this Lemongrass Basil Thai Chicken.

And Indian dishes will have an authentic flavor by using holy basil. Like with this Coconut Basil Chicken Curry with Vegetables.

Storing Fresh Basil

Store fresh basil leaves by snipping off the bottom of the stems (about 1/2 to 1 inch).

Fill a jar or glass partially with fresh water and place the stem ends of the herb into the water in the jar.

Store the basil at room temperature and not put into the refrigerator, because it is susceptible to damage from cold.

Do not wash the leaves until ready to use. Change water daily and make sure to remove leaves that could be submerged in water.

Fresh basil can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way.

Alternatively, you can purchase a pot of basil plants and put on your kitchen window ceil and cut off leaves as needed. Water plants as needed.

Basil is a great spice to add flavor and color to what ever cuisine you may be cooking.

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