Garden Alphabet: Basil

Basil

Few things are as important in western cooking a basil. With a Sicilian-American wife to feed — and as an Italian food lover myself — we are always struggling to keep enough fresh basil growing to meet all of out culinary needs. I had pretty good success with basil over the last year, but just last week our crop was decimate by a rare hard frost here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Thank goodness I have enough plants that I can easily start new ones from those that survived and get our production back on track. 

Basil

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BasilThai basil, or sweet basil, is a common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum (UK /ˈbæzəl/;[1] US /ˈbzəl/[2]) of the family Lamiaceae (mints), sometimes known as Saint Joseph’s Wort in some English-speaking countries.

Basil is native to IndiaChinaSoutheast Asia, and New Guinea.[3] It was originally domesticated in India, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years,[4] but was thoroughly familiar to Theophrastus[5] and Dioscorides. It is a half-hardy annual plant, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in Southeast Asian cuisines of IndonesiaThailandVietnamCambodiaLaos, and the cuisine of Taiwan. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat likeanise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

There are many varieties of Ocimum basilicum, as well as several related species or species hybrids also called basil. The type used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. X citriodorum) and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including holy basil and a cultivar known as ‘African Blue’ — Wikipedia

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Previously in Garden Alphabet:

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