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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?

See results

Quick & easy way to make your own infused Basil Oil


Submit a Comment
  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Basil is unique and a healthy herb as most of other herbs. You mentioned helpful tips.

  • cascoly profile image


    7 years ago from seattle

    the best way i've found to keep basil is to mince it in a food processor, then add olive oil & freeze - use an ice cream scoop to take out as m uch as you need

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Chicken, Sun Dried Tomato and Olive pasta is only half as good without fresh basil!

  • wavegirl22 profile image


    9 years ago from New York, NY

    Funny as I just came in from my little garden where of course I have loads of basil growing.. few different varieties and I hope to harvest enough to make a few batches of pesto for the winter! And just when you think you know it all .. someone smart as you comes along and teaches this old dog a new trick or 2. Tomorrow I am going to put it to the test and treat my hair with a some basil. .even if it doesn't make my hair grow faster. .I sure will have delicious smelling locks. I can never get enough of the scent. always Big thumbs up and I know you have a green thumb that does wonders!!!

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Hazelton 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    K9, I didn't know basil was so versitile. Image using basil to swear an oath in a courtroom And I definitely have to grow some basil if nothing else but to keep the flies away. Fresh herbs growing in the kitchen is a true luxury. All you have to do is reach over an pinch off a leaf and you have instant flavor..

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Lady_E~ I am really glad you found some new ways to use basil. Putting it in as you turn off the cooker is the BEST time to extract the most flavor and scent from the herb. Thank you for the read and the comments. Good luck with your next recipe!

  • Lady_E profile image


    10 years ago from London, UK

    Very useful Tips - So actually, I could put in Basil just as I turn off the cooker. I always use dried Basil but Fresh is definitely better.

    Its got an interesting History too. Thanks for sharing it.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Slideseven~ I agree that the sent of Basil in the kitchen is one of pleasure and comfort. So glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments!

  • slideseven profile image


    10 years ago from UK

    You get an 'up' from me. Great hub! I too love cooking with fresh herbs and spices, and basil does not only add zest and great taste to so many dishes -but also makes the kitchen smell great when it is growing in a wee pot on the windowsill.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Habee~ Basil in my very favorite herb also! Something as simple as a slice of mozzarella cheese, tomato with fresh basil and a drizzle of Xtra virgin olive oil can make me a very happy snacker! Thanks for stopping by!

    ~always choose love~

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    10 years ago from Georgia

    Very nice - I love basil!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Thanks Cosette~ Thanks for the read. Basil cookies sound very decadent...right up my culinary alley! Appreciate you stopping by.

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    LOVE fresh basil! i even make cookies with it, with lime, yummy. nice hub!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Thank you Pamela~ I also enjoy your hubs. I am happy that you are considering growing basil. I am certain you will not be disappointed! This kind of freshness will astonish you taste buds!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I had no idea about the history of basil and this is a very thorough hub. I love basil and use it frequently but I think I will try to plant some. I enjoyed your hub.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Nellieanne~ Basil is my favorite as well. Having it indoors is so covenient and beautifully green. Thank you for the vote and the read! I always value your wise opinion.

    Candy~ Having seen the pictures of your garden, I can only imagine the amount of Basil you will be preserving. Tarragon is an herb I haven't thought about yet,...but, just for you I will put together a hub in the next few days and see if I can offer some links for you to look at. Thanks for the read I always appreciate the really means soooo much to me.

    ~Always choose love~

  • profile image

    candy campbell 

    10 years ago

    I have a large planter of basil already growing! I plan to dry it and I will now also freeze as you suggested. I am also growing dill(for pickling)and tarragon. What ideas have you got for the tarragon. Great hubs girl! Keep it up!

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    10 years ago from TEXAS

    I loved having fresh basil when my herb garden was going. I think I need to have some in a pot indoors. It's just about my favorite herb. It was so exciting to make fresh pesto!! Thanks for a useful and well done hub, K9! Definitely rating it up and useful!!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    10 years ago from Northern, California

    Outstanding Greenlily! Anything that will drive flies AWAY is just alright by me! Glad you found something useful in the hub! Thanks for the read!

  • Greenlily profile image


    10 years ago from Philippines

    Hi! You're hubs has been so informative. I think I will try plant more basils in my garden. I just learned it could drive away flies. Thanks dear!


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