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How to Use Fresh Basil Right

Updated on June 11, 2012

The Best Way To Use Fresh Basil

Using Basil fresh is the best way to extract the most flavor. At the very last minute before removing your cooked dish for service, this is when basil is best introduced to your cuisine. Knowing that the heat of cooked dishes will weaken the basil essence is important to the quality and richness of your foods. Using the dried version of basil weakens the flavor as well as causes it to take on an almost straw like flavor.

BASIL "The King Of Herbs"

Basil leaf up close design
Basil leaf up close design | Source

How to Store Basil

You can store fresh basil after a quick blanching in hot water—boil water and add fresh basil leaves to it for a few seconds removing to an iced bath promptly—be certain to pat dry the leaves before placing the blanched leaves into a plastic bag then into your refrigerator (for a few days) or your freezer for longer. The leaves may very well turn black in your freezer, this is not uncommon.

Dried Basil and That Straw Flavor

Because basil looses so much of its flavor punch when dried, using larger amounts of the dried herb is tempting. However, remember that when dried it can taste a bit like straw, so unless you're preparing infused oil, resist this temptation! Some of the best applications for dried basil are infusing oils or adding it to marinades. Be sure to allow enough time for the dried version of basil to reconstitute with whatever liquids you add it to. The mouth feel of dried basil is unpleasant at best.

Some fun Basil history

(Ocimum basilicum ) (pronounced /ˈbeɪzəl/), of the mints, is a tender low-growing herb. It is commonly found in Italian foods. Basil taste a bit like mild black licorice, with a somewhat assertive and pungent mint like aroma.

Basil is a Greek word meaning King. Because it is believed to be linked to Helen and St. Constantine the Greek Orthodox Church uses basil in its preparation of holy water. It was also used by royalty for baths and for medicinal purpose. This may be why the herb is called "The King of Herbs" by chefs today.

Abstract Basil Plant
Abstract Basil Plant | Source

Basil Around the World

In India it is used to swear there oaths upon in courtrooms. In Italy and Mexico it holds a more romantic responsibility. An Italian lover would place a twig of basil in his hair so he might win the heart of his true love. In Mexico lovers would put basil in their pockets to bring their true love to them forever. Romanians would present basil to their true love as a sign that they were officially engaged. In ancient Rome basil is referred to as Basilescus, which is in reference to the fire-breathing dragon Basilisk. Romans could only ward off attacks by the monster by eating basil everyday. As you can see a vast number of ancient cultures find more than just great seasoning and taste in basil, it is a necessity for a happy life.

The Variety of Basil

Several varieties of Basil exist today. The one we most frequently use in our Italian cooking is known as sweet basil. Other varieties are lemon basil, holy basil and Thai basil. These three are actually used more in Asian parts of the world. The more common varieties of basil are grown and treated like annuals. Holy Thai basil and African Blue basil are among those that are perennial, and prosper in warm, tropical climates. Originating from its native Iran, India and tropical areas in Asia where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years, basil has grown to be one of the most used herbs all over the world. No matter the variety, it's earthy flavor and versatility can be found in almost every cooks kitchen.

Home Uses for Basil

  • Basil shoos away flies . If growing basil inside, bruise the leaves every so often, the scent is released and thus keeps the flies away.
  • Dry the seeds of basil and put them in a potpourri or the dried stalks of basil can be burnt on the fire, both repel mosquitoes .

Medicinal Uses for Basil

  • Add basil to your bath. Relax and enjoy.
  • It is said that crushing the leaves of basil and rubbing them into your scalp grows hair.
  • Some African tribes believe basil will encourage a good night's rest if the basil plant is put underneath the pillow.

Basil, Berries, and Balsamic

If you have never tried the combination of Basil, Berries, and Balsamic Vinegar, you are missing out on something VERY special! Everybody knows that balsamic vinegar and berries have always been best friends. Yet, when you add in a few gently-sliced strips of Basil, those two best friends suddenly rekindle the memories as to why they love each other so much! And that reason is pure luxurious flavor and texture! But, don't forget the whipped cream!

What You Think Really Does Matter!

Have you tried basil with balsamic vinegar and basil strips?

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Quick & easy way to make your own infused Basil Oil


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