I never thought that there would be 50 types of basil to add to your cooking, or even to grow in your herb garden.
In fact, it turns out that there may be as many as 150 types of basil in the world, from bright green to purple flowers on purple basil and everything in between.
I don’t think we will get to all 150, or even 50 for that matter, but I will look at the most common varieties used for cooking.
One of the most popular culinary herbs is basil with its strong, pungent, sweet flavor with various and subtle varieties of basil that come in a lot of different essences.
In Arabic basil is known as reehan a word that is rooted in the word smell, due to the very strong aroma of this herb.
Here, in the Middle East the local basil plant has small leaves bunched together, providing a nice spicy flavor, aromatic taste, with an attractive and strong scent.
The green leaves hold a lot of goodness in them, starting with the ability to help with digestion, fight free radical activity through antioxidants, and even help with depression, just to name a few.
What is Basil?
Basil is aromatic herb in the mint family that is used as a way to enhance the taste of cuisine worldwide.
It is a very popular herb in the United States, as well as countries that surround the Mediterranean sea.
Both fresh and dry.
Types of Basil
As I mentioned above there are a lot of different basil plants out there.
I will list the ones that are most commonly known, and can grow to two feet tall.
Sweet Basil has a sweet fragrant flavor and big leaves that grow quickly.
It is most often used in Asian and Italian cooking.
Holy Basil is a plant with violet flowers.
It is a much spicier version of basil, and is often used for medicinal purposes.
Italian Large Leaf Basil
Italian Large Leaf Basil smells and tastes a little sweeter than most basil plants.
Genovese Basil is a type of sweet basil.
It is flatter and pointier than sweet basil, is very aromatic with a powerful flavor.
Greek Basil is found in the Middle East and has small oval leaves with a delicate flavor.
And the ability to grow new leaves throughout the season.
Thai Basil has a purple stem, shiny green somewhat serrated leaves.
It is spicier than sweet basil with an aromatic liquorice taste.
Cinnamon Basil is similar to Thai basil in its flavor and look.
But cinnamon basil has a spicy cinnamon taste to it.
Lemon Basil has narrow elongated leaves, and a bit of a citrus flavor.
It is a hybrid of different basil plants.
Lime Basil, similar to lemon basil, but believe it or not have a lime flavor that is wonderful with seafood.
Dark Opal Basil
Dark Opal Basil, unique in color this basil is similar in taste to sweet basil.
But it adds a lovely deep purple color when it is used.
Spicy Globe Basil
Spicy Globe Basil is a smaller variety of basil with small leaves.
But with big spice flavor that is terrific in soups, salads, and pasta.
Can You Freeze Basil?
Yes you can!
Freezing basil is easy and a really good way to have ‘fresh’ basil flavor on hand for whenever you need to use it.
Blanch the basil by dipping the leaves in boiling water for a minute.
Then immediately putting them in ice water to cool.
You can do it without blanching but this can cause enzymes to be released.
These can impair the flavor, affect the color and texture, with a loss of vitamins.
Blanching will kill any organisms, and germs on the leaves, brightening the color and preserving vitamins and nutrients.
I like to chop them up and put them in ice cube trays with a little water.
Which make them perfect to add to my cooking when I need them.
Where to Buy Basil
It can always be a little hit and miss when trying to buy basil at your local supermarket.
But I always find that Trader Joe’s never lets me down.
Whole Foods is also a great option.
One of my favorite places to get all of my fresh vegetables and herbs is the farmers market.
You just can’t beat the quality!