Benefits and Use of Basil

Basil

`King of Herbs’ or `herb of poverty’. Ocimum basilicum is the botanical name for Basil. Its roots are steeped in history, tradition and modern-day usage. It’s a sun-loving herb that grows well outside and indoors in your AeroGarden under LED lights that reflect artificial sunlight!

Basil has many benefits and uses it is a widely used herb in kitchens around the globe, making it one of the most popular plant to cook with because it has an aromatic plant that is used in salads or Italian sauces. Basil has nutritional value, and this interesting plant has a deep history that stretches back thousands of years.

Leaves of the Basil Plant
Basil Plant

Description

Genus Name: Ocimum basilicum

Plant Type: Annual herb

Flower colour: White

Propagation: by seed

Leaves: round, pointed

Origin of Basil?

Basil originated in India and was later introduced to Italy, including other Mediterranean countries. There is another plant In Hindi known as the “Sacred Basil” called tulsi. 

Its botanical name Ocimum basilicum has two parts. The first part of the name is said to be linked to Greek mythology warrior named Ocimus. The second part basilicum, is a Greek name “basileus, which means “kingly”. Hence the name “king of herbs” or “royal herb”. The Romans named is basiliscus because if you ate the basil leaves, it would protect you from the fire breathing dragon known as the basilisk.

From its original home in India, Basil eventually found its way around the world to places such as:

  • Europe
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Thailand
  • England 16th Century
  • North America

Basil Herb Garden Varieties

==If you want to get a Pesto Basil kit, click here==

There are many varieties of Basil that are used in cooking and today we have a good range available from the common green leaf to the red, opal or purple varieties.

Leaves of Thai Basil
Thai Basil
  • Arostotle Basil
  • `African Blue’ basil      
  • Greek basil
  • `Boxwood’ Basil
  • Cardinal basil
  • `Cinnamon’ basil
  • `Magical Michael’ basil
  • `Greek column’ basil
  • ‘Mrs Burns’ Lemon basil
  • Napolitano basil
  • ‘Osmin’ basil
  • ‘Pesto Party’ basil
  • ‘Purple Ruffles’ basil
  • ‘Red Rubin’ basil
  • `Serrata basil’
  • ‘Spicy Globe’ basil
  • ‘Sweet Thai’ Basil
  • Spicy bush basil
  • Sweet basil, Ocimium bacilicum, related to basilico genovese
  • Holy Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • `Siam Queen’ basil

What makes Basil so popular in cooking?

It’s in the flavour

  • Spicy, 
  • Peppery
  • Hint of Clove and
  • Mint

which gives it a pungent and sweet aroma.

What does Basil work best with?

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes, sauces
  • Pasta dishes

Historical, traditional and modern-day use of basil.

Basil has a deep history not only in food but in other areas such as

  • Embalming bodies in Egypt
  • Preserving bodies in Egypt
  • Mourning in Greece
  • Ayurveda a traditional medicinal
  • Folklore
  • Gift
  • Religious holidays
  • Perfumes
  • Incense
  • Herbal remedies
  • Antidote
  • Snake bites
  • Provider strength
  • Provide protection
  • Cheers the spirit
  • Clears the brain

Basil was once thought to be poisonous and yet in history it has been a symbol of love or hate.

My Aero Gardening is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

Can Basil be used in Medicine?

It is believed that the properties of basil plants are potentially high in antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial. The nutritional benefits of basil are rich in anti-oxidants. There have been claims that Basil is an anti-cancer and anti-viral property, but there is no factual evidence that any of this is correct.

Besides the claims, many people believe Basil is a remedy for many health issues: 

  • Digestion
  • Headaches
  • Colds
  • Memory
  • Illness
  • Anxiety
  • Sickness
  • High cholesterol
  • Cuts burns

What are the Nutritional Benefits of eating Basil?

Basil has a good source of vitamins and minerals to support growth, development and maintain our immune system, including regulating blood pressure, brain and nerve function, muscle, heart and nerve function and for keeping bones strong and healthy.

  • Manganese has 10%
  • Basil is high in vitamin K
  • Copper 9%
  • Vitamin A 6%
  • Vitamin C 5%
  • Calcium 4%
  • Folate 4%
  • Iron 4%
  • Omega 3 fats 3%
  • Magnesium 3%

Is eating basils seeds okay?

Are basil seeds okay to eat? Yes they are and if you soak them in water they become gelatinous. and can be added to drinks and used as a thickener for soups. Claims are made that eating basil seeds have health benefits:

  • Regulate blood sugar
  • help with digestion
  • suppress appetite control
  • Respiratory Aid
  • Relieve stress
  • skin treatment
  • Lower cholesterol
  • bladder infections
  • vaginal infections

Uses of Basil within the home

Many chefs and home cooks prefer to use fresh basil in cooking, therefore you will find them in Italian recipies:

  • Tomato sauces
  • Pesto
  • Vinegars
  • Oils
  • Salads
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Basil in Aromatherapy 
  • Basil essential oil
  • Cleaning products
  • Basil olive oil

Drying fresh Basil leaves

Basil is at its best when used fresh in cooking but when we have an abundance of beautiful fresh leaves it’s good to be able to store them so they can be used in the offseason. It’s another fun activity to do which is cost-effective. This is great! 

There are a few ways this can be achieved:

  • Drying basil in a microwave
  • Drying Basil in an oven
  • Drying Basil in a Dehydrator
  • Freezing

If using a dehydrator the hot, dry air removes water from inside the herb to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Dehydrating basil will keep for longer periods of time quickly. When you are dehydrating Basil, it can look darker in colour and smell more fragrant. I can hear you saying Oh no! Rest assured your home-dried basil will be nothing like the commercially bought product from the supermarket.

It will taste better and have no additives or preservatives. 

Once the Basil is dried you can store it in a small airtight container and keep in the dark place such as your pantry cupboard. Remember to label the contents and add the date of preparation. Your herbs will keep for a long time.

Dehydrated Basil is very safe if you follow the directions that come with your hydrator.

Storing basil leaves

Basil can also be stored in the freezer for 4 to 6 months. Steps to lock in the fresh flavour. 

  • Wash basil in cold water
  • Drop into boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute. 
  • Remove with a slotted spoon. 
  • Transfer to a bowl of ice
  • Chill for a few seconds
  • Blot herbs dry with a clean tea towel
  • Spread herbs onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or baking paper
  • Freeze for approximately one hour
  • Transfer to freezer containers and label with name and date

Conclusion

Origins of basil is well-known in history, folklore and mythology. Many varieties are available around the world and what makes this plant the `King of Herbs’ is its flavour which works extremely well with ingredients found in Italian, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine. 

==If you would like to know more about herbs in kits click here==

If you are an AeroGarden lover or would like to become one, I would love to hear your feedback on the systems, plants you have grown or issues you have faced and success stories.

Yvonne
Yvonne’s fairy godmother

20 thoughts on “Benefits and Use of Basil

  1. Aparna Bansal says:

    What a wealth of information Yvonne. You are unbelievably knowledgeable.
    Basil is a daily-use herb in traditional Indian cooking and all religious ceremonies. I grow basil in little ground squares outside, but I definitely want to grow it indoors to see the difference in taste.
    Thanks for this great idea.
    Regards,
    Aparna

  2. Hannie says:

    Basil is one of my favorite herbs. We have 3 different kinds in the kitchen garden. One is Cinnamon Basil. That one has a really strong smell and taste, that doesn’t go well with some other herbs or vegetables, in my opinion.

    I don’t know the names of the other 2 kinds. We got them as a present and I just distinguish from each other by the size of their leaves. 🙂 One has big leaves and the other really small ones.
    I love those in a salad or a sauce.

    I didn’t know you can dehydrate herbs and that there is even a device for it! We usually hang them in the garage in a paper bag. The bag is to prevent the seeds from being wasted on the floor. Do you think that’s a good method?

    Thanks for all your explanation!

    • Yvonne says:

      Hello Hannie, thank you for your comments. I have been trying to get Cinnamon Basil here in Australia but so far haven’t been able to get any at the garden centre near where I live. I think it’s a great idea to use a brown paper bag for catching seeds. You will have pure organic seeds from your homegrown plants!

  3. Tom says:

    Hey Yvonne,

    This is such an informative and insightful article on basil. I love basil and I use it quite often on my dishes at home. I like to use it most when we are making pasta. I got the idea from a restaurant in Liverpool where they made chicken fusili and basil. After I tried that dish, I was hooked on the stuff. I love to make chicken fusili and basil on a Friday night mostly, getting ready for the weekend.

    I didn’t realise there were so many benefits from using basil too, so thank you for sharing those benefits and keep up the great work.

    All the best,

    Tom

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you, Tom, for your comments, Basil is so versatile. Suppose you like tomatoes try sliced tomato and put basil between each on a platter or plate, a bit of salt and pepper, and a dash of olive oil. You could try chopping up your basil leaves and adding them to some olive oil and sprinkle over your tomatoes. It’s a great salad side dish.

  4. Nina says:

    We have basil planted in the garden at home (I don’t know exactly which species), and we use it as a cooking herb (sauces, soups, salad dressings), fresh and dried.
    I didn’t know it was so diverse and used for so many purposes. I have never even thought about eating basil seeds.
    Thanks for this valuable article on the benefits and uses of basil, even though I have it at home, I didn’t know much about it. Information about the origin, folklore, and mythology was also interesting to read.
    Friendly greeting,
    Nina

  5. Kenny Lee says:

    I’ve always been a fan of basil, particularly Thai dishes that use a generous amount of the leaves. I’m surprised that there are so many varieties of them, and that basil has medicinal properties. Guess, I’ll have more of basils in my meals. Thanks for the info.

    • Yvonne says:

      Thanks, Kenny, for your comment. At the moment I’m growing two popular types of Basil, Common one and the Thai Basil. I love the Thai one as it tastes like liquorice or aniseed!

  6. Deb says:

    Wow! I was unaware of the nutritional value of using basil. I have been using it for years but have never grown it. I think it is time I started. Living in Canada, I am thankful to now know it can be grown indoors. I will have to try that. Any tips? Where would I find the lights you mentioned?

    • Yvonne says:

      Hello Deb thank you for your comment. From what I have read basil has lots of nutrients. Basil is easy to grow in Canada and you will have access to AeroGarden online. I live in Australia and they don’t post any products to Australia, so I have to go through Amazon for LED Lights, they have a great range.

  7. Kay Keene says:

    Hi Yvonne

    Thank you so much for your article on the benefits and use of basil. I love gardening myself and growing my own herbs to use for cooking.
    I love basil it has to be one of my favourite herbs and making pesto is a must for me.
    I actually did not know that there were so many different types of basil or that you could freeze it. I will try freezing it next time I have a lot as I have only just planted new seedlings.
    Where can I buy seedling for the various basil you mentioned? I would like to order some. I am in South Africa and have not seen many of the ones you mentioned.

    • Yvonne says:

      Hello, Kay, thank you for your comment. I agree Basil is an interesting herb that I love. I’m not sure where you can buy the seeds, but if you go to your nearest garden centre in South Africa, you could get them there or try Amazon or another garden centre that will post to your region.

  8. Matt Lin says:

    We love to eat certain food with the basil to get the most delicious flavor, and it works quite well. Reading your article reminds me of the food, and I feel like I smell basil too.

    It’s good to know that people use basil for other purposes that you listed out in this article, not only for the kitchen. The one that surprises me the most is using basil for snake bites, which wows me. Thanks for sharing today. I learned something interesting from you. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Matt

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you for your comment Matt, I’m glad you could almost smell the basil. It tastes much nicer than the supermarket variety. Eating Basil fresh is the best way to have it.

  9. Jade says:

    Hi Yvonne,

    Thanks for this article! It’s so informative! I really love basil, and I’ve tried growing it before, but with limited success. We also moved before I was able to find the time to harvest or use it, but if I had known that it was so easy to store, I definitely would have done so.

    But now – thanks to you – I know for next time, which will hopefully be this next year. I also had no idea how many varieties of basil there are! Wow!

    Thanks again for such an interesting, informative article!
    ~Jade

    • Yvonne says:

      Thank you, Jade, for popping into my Basil page. It’s a shame you could not save your Basil and take it with you. Basil also self-seeds and if the temperature and moisture are right it will regrow. If you want to save the seeds after flowering I would suggest collecting seed by turning the flowers upside down so the flower is inside the brown paper bag. The seeds you collect can be replanted the following year.

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