Growing Herbs – Basil
November 28, 2012
Basil is said to have originated in India, where it was considered sacred. As it’s use spread to the Mediterranean it stood for love in Italy, and hate in Greece. In herbal medicine, basil is considered a powerful, masculine herb.
Basil is the perfect culinary partner to tomatoes, eggplant, lemon, capsicum, pine nuts. For most Mediterranean or Asian style dishes it works well.
When cooking with basil it should always be added at the end of the cooking to allow it’s flavour to shine and prevent a bitter taste.
Try to harvest your leaves just before using them. If you are going to store them they can be wrapped in a damp tea towel and placed in the crisper section of the fridge, or if you are using them on the same day they can be placed into a bowl of water and put into the fridge. This will keep them fresh.
I have not had any luck drying basil leaves. I tend to make pesto, or infused oil at the end of the season.The infused oil I made earlier in the year is lovely and is improving as it ages. It is a really lovely way to capture the essence of this herb long after the plant has been removed from the garden.
Dorothy Hall in The Book of Herbs, recommends layering the stems and leaves in an earthenware pot covering each layer in salt. I am yet to give this a try to say how well it works. If I have a bumper crop this summer I will give it a go. If you have ever done this I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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