Saturday, March 23, 2013

Basil Varieties!

There are dozens of types of basil. All true basil varieties are considered to be those that are a part of the Ocimum genus. Ocimum Basilicum, or sweet basil, is the most well known species of the basil plant. There are numerous cultural varieties of basil, such as purple basil and cinnamon basil, which are appreciated for their unique colors, smell and taste. There are also a number of different species that are highly regarded for their use in cooking, medicine and for their ties to religion as well. Two such species include Thai basil and holy basil. Other types of basil are excellent choices for decorative designs, either because of their beautiful flowers or ability to be used in topiaries or as hedging. Two such plants include purple bush basil and boxwood basil. You have plenty of choices when growing basil.


Sweet Basil: Used in tomato sauce, pesto and salads. This is your classic Italian Basil

Purple Ruffles Basil: Ruffled, large and frilly purple leaves. Beautiful and fragrant. Stronger flavor than Sweet Basil but milder flavor than Green Ruffles. Adds color and flavor to herb vinegar.

Thai Basil:  More tender and more intensely flavored than Sweet Basil. Thai basil seeds are highly aromatic with a licorice-basil aroma. Great in both Thai and Italian recipes. Wonderful container plant. Late flowering. 

Round Midnight Basil: This highly aromatic purple leaf basil, a hybrid, with shiny leaves and dense habit promises a summer of fragrant and tasty pleasure. A garden attention-getter, each plant is full and round, 10-12″ tall, 8-10″ across, with showy spikes of light purple blooms.

Lemon Basil:  Attractive, spreading silver-green plants. Lemony aroma and flavor for potpourris, tea, chicken, fish, vegetables and herb vinegar. Native to northwest India.

Greek Basil:  Native to southeast Asia, basil has been used in cooking and for fragrances for centuries. Brought to Europe in the Middle Ages, it thrived in the Mediterranean region, as well as by the Caspian and Black Seas. Tiny leaves on dome shaped, 8″ tall plants. Great with tomatoes, in salads or sauces. Especially interesting in the garden.

Spicy Saber Basil: A distinct spicy note perfect for Asian dishes. Remains bushy and productive late into the season. Bright green saber-like ornamental leaves.

Genovese Basil: Extremely tender, fragrant, extra-large, dark green leaves. An Italian strain, best for pesto. 

Cardinal Basil: Flaunts a unique scent, rich and heady with a touch of spice. Strong, deep burgundy stems hold the flowers above the smooth, bright green leaves, ensuring a vibrant show throughout the summer even as you continue harvesting fresh leaves. A beautiful standout in the herb patch and a flavorful addition to the ornamental bed.

Green Ruffles Basil: This variety has large, serrated and quilted leaves. Enhances the flavor of tomato dishes.

Boxwood Basil: Tight mounds of small leaves that resemble boxwood plants make a highly ornamental edging for the patio or for a container by the kitchen door. Bred in France for a highly flavorful pesto ingredient. A beautiful basil variety that makes a fine garden companion.

Summerlong Basil: Very compact, tight bushes, slow to bolt, densely covered with shiny, bright green leaves. Great for pots and ornamental edging in vegetable beds.

Lime Basil: A rare and hard to find seed variety. Lime basil is sweet and fragrant with a mild citrus taste. The lime scent of the bright green, lance-shaped leaves pair perfectly with lemon basil, for a full explosion of tangy fresh flavor. Excellent for flavoring sauces, dressings and desserts.

Here is a more complete list of basil varieties taken from Wikipedia.  

Ocimum basilicum cultivars
Common nameSpecies and cultivarsDescription
Sweet basilO. basilicumWith a strong clove scent when fresh.[6]
Lettuce leaf basilO. basilicum 'Lettuce Leaf'Has leaves so large they are sometimes used in salads.[7]
Mammoth basilO. basilicum'Mammoth'Another large-leaf variety, stronger flavor than sweet Genovese.[8]
Genovese basilO. basilicum'Genovese Gigante'Almost as popular as sweet basil, with similar flavor.[8][9][10][11]
Nufar basilO. basilicum 'Nufar F1'Variety of Genovese resistant to fusarium wilt.
Spicy globe basilO. basilicum 'Spicy Globe'Grows in a bush form, very small leaves, strong flavor.[12]
Greek Yevani basilO. basilicum 'Greek Yevani'Organically grown version of Spicy globe basil.
Fino verde basilO. basilicum piccoloSmall, narrow leaves, sweeter, less pungent smell than larger leaved varieties.[13]
Boxwood basilO. basilicum'Boxwood'Grows tightly like boxwood, very small leaves, strong flavor, great for pestos.
Purple ruffles basilO. basilicum 'Purple Ruffles'Solid purple, rich and spicy and a little more anise-like than the flavor of Genovese Basil.
Magical MichaelO. basilicum 'Magical Michael'Award-winning hybrid with an uncommon degree of uniformity, and nice flavor for culinary use.[14]
Dark opal basilO. basilicum'Purpurascens'Award-winning variety, developed at the University of Connecticut in the 1950s.[15]
Red rubin basilO. basilicum 'Red Rubin'Strong magenta color, similar flavor to sweet basil, also called Opal basil.[8]
Osmin purple basilO. basilicum 'Osmin Purple'Dark shiny purple with a jagged edge on the leaves, smaller leaves than red rubin.[16]
Cuban basilO. basilicumSimilar to sweet basil, with smaller leaves and stronger flavor, grown from cuttings.[17]
Thai basilO. basilicum var. thyrsiflorumCalled Ho-ra-pa (ต้นโหระพา) in Thai, gets its scent of licorice from estragole.[5]
'Siam Queen'O. basilicum var. thyrsiflorum 'Siam Queen'[18]A named cultivar of Thai Basil
Cinnamon basilO. basilicum'Cinnamon'Also called Mexican spice basil, with a strong scent of cinnamate, the same chemical as in cinnamon. Has purple flowers.[5]
Licorice basilO. basilicum 'Licorice'Also known as Anise basil or Persian basil, silvery leaves, spicy licorice smell comes from the same chemical as inaniseanethole. Thai basil is also sometimes called Licorice basil.[19]
Mrs. Burns lemon basilO. basilicum var.citriodora 'Mrs. Burns'Clean, aromatic lemon scent, similar to lemon basil.[18]
Ocimum americanum (formerly known as O. canum) cultivars
Common nameSpecies and cultivarsDescription
Lemon basilO. americanum[18]Contains citral and limonene, therefore actually does smell very lemony, tastes sweeter. Originally, and sometimes still, called "hoary basil". Popular in Indonesia, where it is known as 'kemangi'. Also sometimes 'Indonesian basil'.
Lime basilO. americanumSimilar to lemon basil.[16]
Ocimum ×citriodorum cultivars
Common nameSpecies and cultivarsDescription
Greek column basilO. ×citriodorum'Lesbos'Columnar basil, can only be propagated from cuttings.[20]
Thai lemon basilO. ×citriodorumCalled mangluk (แมงลัก) in Thai. It has a citrus odor, with a distinct Lemon-balm-like flavor[5]
Other Species and Hybrids
Common nameSpecies and cultivarsDescription
Holy basilO. sanctum
(alt. O. tenuiflorum)
Also sacred basilTulsi (तुलसी) in Hindi, a perennial breed from India, used in Ayurveda, for worship, and in Thai cooking.[5]
Clove BasilO. gratissimum
Greek bush basil(Greek Spicy Globe Basil)O. minimum
(alt. O. basilicum var.minimum)
Forms a nearly perfectly round globe, with thin, tiny leaves and a delicious scent. Despite its name, the variety probably originated in Chile.[21]
Dwarf bush basilO. minimumUnusually small bush variety, similar to Greek bush basil.[6]
African Blue basilO. kilimandscharicum × basilicumA sterile perennial hybrid, with purple coloration on its leaves and containing a strong portion of actual camphor in its scent.[5]
Spice basilO. basilicum × americanumA fruity/musky-scented cultivar sometimes sold as Holy Basil
Sweet Dani basilO. basilicum × americanumA vigorous, large-leaved green basil with a strong, fresh lemon scent,[22] a 1998 All-American Selection.[23]

There are many varieties of basil to suit your needs.  This posting I wanted to give you a list of the many different types and their properties.  Next posting I will touch on what other things basil can be used for.  Hopefully this list can give you some insight into what type of basil you would like to grow and for what purpose.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Quick Guide to some Culinary Herbs

Using Herbs in Recipes

Quick guide to some common potherbs and their culinary uses and the foods, dishes, and vegetables they enhance.


(Ocimum basilicum)
Tomatoes, soups, salads, pizza, salad dressings, chicken dishes, egg dishes, salmon, tuna, spaghetti, meatloaf, dips, herb sandwiches, green beans, wax beans, cauliflower, corn

Bay leaves

(Laurus nobilis)
Meats, stews, steamed fish, sauces, soups, pickling, casseroles, stocks, syrups, garnish, pâté and terrines


(Anthriscus cerefolium)
Eggs, salads, vegetables, soups, chicken, fish, herb butter, cottage cheese


(Allium schoenoprasum)
Dips, sauces, spreads, garnish, cold chicken, barbecued meats, baked and mashed potatoes, egg dishes, cheese soufflés, salads, carrots, soups, vichyssoise, herb sandwiches


(Coriandrum sativum)
Salads, guacamole, soups, stews, salsas, chutneys, dips, beans, soups, used in Asian, Mexican, Indian, Tex Mex, Caribbean, and North African cuisines


(Coriandrum sativum)
Ginger cookies, curry, Indian dishes, Greek dishes, Asian cooking, pickles, veal, fish, fruit puddings, tea cakes, apple crumbles

Dill weed

(Anethum graveolens)
Seafood and shellfish, salads, herb butter, dips, sauces, soups, vegetable stews, fish dishes, vinegars and oils, breads and sandwiches, egg and cheese dishes, green beans, wax beans, cabbage, seeds are used in pickling, coleslaw, cakes, breads, teas


(Foeniculum vulgare)
Salads, fish, duck, pork, veal, sauces, stuffings / dressings, mayonnaise, flavored butters, salad dressings, seeds used in breads

Lemon grass / Lemongrass

(Cymbopogon citratus)
Soups, sauces, stirfry, chicken, tomatoes, fish, seafood, beef, Caribbean and Asian dishes (Thai and Vietnamese)


Carrots, lamb sauce, pea soup, soft cheeses, herb sandwiches, egg dishes, vegetables such as buttered peas, mashed potatoes, mint ice, cold drinks, mint juleps, mint jelly, sauces, tea, garnish, desserts (Peppermint)


(Origanum vulgare)
Meat sauces, tomato sauces, breads, Italian dishes, veal, egg dishes, vegetables, pizza, salads, casseroles, soups (tomato, pea), pates and poultry dishes, beans, rice, cabbage


(Petroselinum crispum )
Fish and meat sauces, salads, soups (vegetable, tomato, fish), dips, vegetables, omelettes and other egg dishes, breads and sandwiches, sausage, stuffing, hamburgers, tuna loaf, potatoes, salad dressings, garnishes


(Rosmarinus officinalis)
Lamb, chicken and poultry sauces, beef and mutton stock, vegetables in particular cauliflower, breads and scones, dumplings, liver pâté, stews, dressings


(Salvia officinalis)
Stuffing / dressing, soups (Minestrone, chicken), sauces, pork, meatballs, meatloaf, Welsh rabbit, pizza, fish, goose, duck, sausage, casseroles, omelettes, vegetarian stews, salads, Brussels sprouts


Vegetables, dried bean dishes, soups, lentils, eggs, stuffings / dressings, condiments, hamburger, gravy


(Rumex scutatus)
Cold soups, salads, vegetables, fish, white sauces, cream sauces, eggs, poultry and white meats, goat cheese

Sweet Marjoram

(Origanum majorana)
Peas, stuffings / dressings, soups, salads, sauces, egg and cheese dishes, stews, fruit salads


(Artemisia dracunculus)
Chicken / poultry, fish sauces and soups, tarragon tartare sauce (tartar sauce), mushrooms, meats, liver, pâté, seafoods, egg dishes, green salads, mayonnaise, cream and butter sauces, salad dressings, vinegars and oils, vegetables (green beans and cauliflower in particular), butter, cottage cheese


(Thymus vulgaris)
Chowders, cheese, salads, chicken and fish marinades, beef broth, soups (vegetable, chicken), liver, pâté, meatballs, meatloaf, braised rabbit, chicken, stuffing, egg dishes, broccoli, beans, lentil stew, tomatoes, butters, cottage cheese, vinegars and oils

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Growing Your Own Herbs vs. Store Bought

The most common practice and easiest way to get cooking herbs of course is to go to the grocery store and purchase them there. If you don't have the time or space to grow your own then this is the next best solution. But if you are interested in trying your hand at gardening then I am sure you will find it very rewarding and will not want to go back to buying them again. Here are some of the benefits of growing your own herbs.

1. Being able to walk outside into your herb garden and pick them fresh is probably the most common benefit. On occasion where you run out of a particular herb it can be more convenient to have it fresh at hand then having to take a drive to the store.

2. Another thing that you will enjoy more is the flavour. Fresh picked herbs are always much more flavourful then ones that are bought at the store. For obvious reasons, they are fresh, the prepackaged ones may have been sitting on the shelf for quite a bit of time.

3. Another reason for growing your own is financial, if you live on a budget it can be expensive to buy herbs, when you grow your own the cost of having them is very minimal. The only real cost will be in your seeds, soil or pots and in your time and effort of taking care of them.

4. Other benefits of growing them vs buying them are you know where they come from, and if they are grown without the use of pesticides or harsh chemicals. As a home grower you can make the choice as to whether you want to grow them completely organic or using chemicals. It gives you the control in what you are putting in your body.

5. Not only will you know what you are putting into your body but fresh home grown herbs have a lot more nutrient content. The longer a herb sits the less vitamin and mineral content there will be in them.

6. You also may choose to grow your own just because you feel a sense of pride and joy in watching them grow and in the ritual of harvesting them, storing them and using them in your favorite recipes. Just that alone is why a lot of people choose to grow.

7. As a home grower you can have more of a variety of herbs at your fingertips. It allows you to experiment more with your recipes and try new and interesting things. For instance you may not be able to find a certain herb at your grocery store but you can find the seeds to grow them.

8. Herbs also can be used for other purposes as well to making gifts for friends or loved ones or even to sell at a roadside stand if you have a lot of extra. If you want to be extra courteous you can always give some away as well.

9. Another important reason that I must mention to growing your own is to help out the environment. Having your own garden is healthy for the Eco-system, plants are mother natures way of cleaning the air around us as well as attracting pollinating insects. Not only do you give back to the earth by growing but you also cut back on buying from the store. Every herb bought in the store is packaged in a plastic, etc type packaging, as well as shipped by truck. Anytime we can reduce our consumption of transported and packaged goods is a great way to give back to the planet.

If you do not have the space, time or interest to grow your own then the grocery store products can be used effectively and can serve the same purpose. Either way the choice is yours. Only you can decide which option is best for you. As long as you are enjoying the process of using herbs in your recipes then that is all that will matter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cooking Herbs

Cooking herbs as we like to refer to it are a range of herbs that are used for culinary purposes/cooking. They are used generally to enhance or change a flavour of a certain food. There are many type of herbs, some are considered medicinal and they are used mainly for physical ailments and to enhance or cure health problems. But this blog isn't about medicinal herbs, It will be all about cooking or culinary herbs. I love many types of herbs for their variety of purposes. In the case of culinary herbs they enhance any sort of dish from meat, seafood,vegetables,soups,stews,pastas and even to baked goods. I have always loved to experiment with spices and flavours and also love to cook and bake. I used to buy the majority of my spices at the grocery store and still do buy them. But recently have started to grow my own at home. It is very simple to do and you get a supply of fresh herbs all year round that are much better tasting, economical, healthier as they are free from chemicals, not to mention the satisfaction of eating what you grow. My purpose of this blog is to share with others my herb adventures and to educate others on the various herbs and their uses. Also to give you tips as to where to grow, buy, prepare and find resources.