Basil is a beautiful herb that brings Italian dishes like pasta and pizza to life. In Italian culture, it is viewed as a sign of love and devotion between young couples. It is said that when a man brought a woman a sprig of basil, she would be sure to fall in love with him. While Italians definitely cherish this herb, it is important for many other cultures, too. In fact, basil gets its name from Greek word basilikohn, which means ‘royal’, reflecting that the ancient culture considered it sacred. In Hindu cultures, this herb is also sacred, and is believed by many to be a favorite of the gods, Krisha and Vishnu. One of the most popular herbs around the world, it is native to Asia and can be found growing wild in both tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.
Basil’s fragrant aroma serves as the cornerstone for Italian dishes like tomato and pesto sauces. Best used fresh, the leaves are the perfect garnish for pasta and salad recipes. Thai basil adds a lovely licorice flavor to dishes such as green and red curries. Thai holy basil (or Tulsi) is used in stir-fries and as an herbal tea. With over 150 different types of species and varieties available, it is a diverse and delicious herb!
Once used as an insect repellent, basil is also known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It reduces stress levels, protects the liver, and promotes healthy skin. Basil can also ease headaches and constipation. Eat the leaves fresh or brew a strong tea to take advantage of all of its benefits.
Tips for Growing
Basil is sensitive to frost and cold. If starting from seed, plant them indoors instead of risking that they’ll get damaged by frost. You can grow your basil indoors by a sunny window to have quick access to the leaves while cooking. If you choose to transplant the basil to a pot or a garden, make sure it has plenty of room to expand and grow. Once your plant is thriving, harvest the stems weekly to encourage greater leaf growth. Start your harvest today!