1) Basil General Information:
- Location on Property: Herb Spiral, Bamboo Hut, Eco-Community Amenities
- Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
- Region of Origin: India and other tropical regions of Asia (some sources also include Africa). The Crusaders brought basil leaves to England, having been common in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Type: Edible
- General History: Basil is originally native to India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. It is prominently featured in varied cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian. The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “king” or “royal”, reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. Other cultures have continued the tradition of reverence of basil. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality. In Italy, it was a symbol of love. Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae (Labiatae) and like others in this family, basil can be identified by its squarish, hairy stems.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A. In addition, it is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium. Since the oils in basil are highly volatile, it is best to add the herb near the end of the cooking process. This will retain its maximum essence and flavor. Fresh leaves make for the best flavor. You can use the leaves cooked or raw. Crush, chip or mince the leaves and add to recipes, or add whole leaves to salads. Also, sprigs of basil make a wonderfully aromatic garnish. Basil flowers are beautiful, edible, and also make a unique garnish. It is superb with veal, lamb, fish, poultry, white beans, pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese and eggs. It also blends well with garlic, thyme and lemon. Basil adds zip to mild vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, spinach and to the soups, stews and sauces that the vegetables appear.
- As Medicine or Other Uses: Basil is used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India and Siddha medicine, a traditional Tamil system of medicine. They are also used as drinks in Southeast Asia. Being a member of the mint family, it is not surprising to see it recommended for digestive complaints. So instead of an after dinner mint, try sipping an after dinner cup of basil tea to aid digestion and dispel flatulence. Herbalists have recommended basil for stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation. Basil has been described as having a slight sedative action, which would explain why it is sometimes recommended for headaches and anxiety. Basil and oregano contain large amounts of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP), which have a use in treating inflammatory bowel diseases and arthritis.
3) Growing Instructions
- General: Basil is surprisingly easy to grow. You can grow the seeds regardless of whether it is started indoors or broadcast outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Basil is very tender and sensitive to frost injury. For indoor culture, sow seeds in a flat, and cover them with a moistened, sterile mix to a depth not more than twice the size of the seed.Space seeds 3/8 to 1/2 inch apart in the flat. Maintain a soil temperature of approximately 70 degrees F. Once germination begins, at 5 to 7 days, the plantlets must be kept warm at 70 degrees F or above and the soil must be kept moist. When seedlings have at least 2 pairs of true leaves, transplant them to 2 inch pots. Basil can also be propagated very reliably from cuttings with the stems of short cuttings suspended for two weeks or so in water until roots develop.Once a stem produces flowers, foliage production stops on that stem. It becomes woody, and essential oil production declines. To prevent this, pinch off any flower stems before they are fully mature. Because only the blooming stem is affected, some stems can be pinched for leaf production, while others are left to bloom for decoration or seeds. Once the plant flowers, it may produce seed pods containing small black seeds, which can be saved and planted the following year. Picking the leaves off the plant helps “promote growth” because the plant responds by converting pairs of leaflets next to the topmost leaves into new stems.
- Difficulties with this plant: Basil is very sensitive to cold, with best growth in hot, dry conditions. It behaves as an annual if there is any chance of a frost.
History of Basil at Hedonisia:
1 cup fresh de-stemmed basil
1-1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
2 T mac nut oil
1-2 T lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 t organic sea salt
1/4 cup raw nut milk or water
combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse. Add 1 T of desired liquid to blender to facilitate blending and in order to reach desired consistency. Serve with bread, raw crackers, pasta, etc and enjoy!