The Four Essential Fresh Basil Varieties

Summer Entertaining. Fresh Basil By Rebecca Gordon Editor In Chief Publisher Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary Entertaining Techniques Magazine Cooking Baking Instructional Digital Magazine Modern Southern Socials Game Day Entertaining RebeccaGordon Southern Hostess Summer Parties Pastry Chef TV Cooking Personality Birmingham Alabama

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The Four Essential Fresh Basil Varieties

Basil, perhaps one of the most favorable warm weather culinary herbs, is a member of the Lamiaceae family which also includes mint, lavender, coleus, thyme, oregano & sage just to name a few. Classic summer recipes featuring fresh produce such as tomatoes, Vidalia onions, lady peas, butter beans & corn are just some of the essentials that come to life when just a bit of fresh basil is included. Lovely meals such as Panzanella Salad With Basil Vinaigrette, Whole Wheat Caprese Pizza, Margherita Pizza, Caprese Pasta Salad, Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce, Pecan Pesto, Spinach & Bacon Salad With Pecan Pesto Croutons, Tomato-Basil TartletsChèvre-Basil Tartlets, Tomato-Basil Bruschetta & Alabama Tomato & Barley Pesto Salad highlight summer’s most popular herb flawlessly. Learn about several different types of basil just waiting for you to discover them.

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How To Store & Use Fresh Basil

Sweet basil leaves are tender so it’s best to pluck them from plants just before using them. However, bouquets of snipped basil may be placed in a bit of water & stored on the countertop several days in a bright location in your kitchen. If purchasing basil from the market, opt for plants if available or keep the leaves in the container they were purchased in up to 2 days in the refrigerator.  

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Many of these plants are available for purchase from nurseries now so plan to create a basil cutting garden that may be used well into fall. Conversely, you may grow basil from seed rather easily. Press the seeds into loose, damp soil in a window box or directly in the garden where they will recieve good sunlight & watch them grow. The stems may be snipped, then the leaves used in recipes. Pinch the ends when they begin to flower on the plant to encourage more leaf growth. 

No. 1

Lemon Basil 

Lemon basil, also referred to as Thai lemon basil or hoary basil, scientifically known as Ocimum × citriodorum is a hybrid variety. The leaves are noted for their oval shape with fuzzy stems. The flavor has a distinctively sweet taste with underlying citrus notes. Although it may be used in place of sweet basil in recipe applications, it’s best when offered as a finishing element as the taste will be more prominent. Try this herb in vinaigrettes, salads, dips & pasta. It makes a lovely cocktail addition, too. 

No. 2

Thai Basil

Thai basil or Ocimum basilicum ‘thyrsiflora’, is used often in Vietnamese cuisine offering spicy, anise flavor to regional specialties. The leaves may be distinguished as being less glossy in appearance compared to sweet basil & more narrow & spear-shaped. They are connected to purple stems. The herb is often found in both red & green curries. Thai basil is also offered as an accompaniment much like salt & pepper in the West to many traditional dishes such as pho so that individuals may season portions to their specific tastes.


No. 3

Sweet Basil

Sweet basil or Genovese basil, is a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum. This highly aromatic annual herb prized for their large leaves is extremely easy to grow & shoots up rather quickly. It’s most commonly associated with classic Italian cuisine & a culinary staple found in freshly prepared pesto. Plants can reach up to 2 1/2-feet high & spread up to 1 1/2 feet wide. They prefer rich, moist soil that is well drained & a sunny location. 

No. 4

Purple Basil 

Purple basil, more formally known as Ocimum basilicum ‘Purpurescens’, may be identified visually by its richly hued aubergine leaves with a distinctive licorice flavor. It is easy to grow in a location that receives approximately 8 hours of sunlight. Expect plants to reach 1 1/2 to 2 feet high. In culinary applications, use purple basil in place of sweet basil in favorites including Caprese Pasta Salad, Margherita Pizza & fun takes such as Peanut Pesto for a slightly different taste.

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* Southern Born * Southern Bred * Tailgate Queen * Football Fanatic * Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Techniques Instructor * Cooking & Baking Tutorials * Media Personality * Baking & Pastry Artist * Gardener * Runner * Retainer of Useless Pop Culture One Liners * Terrible Dancer * Even Worse Singer * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rebecca Gordon shares over 20 years of cooking knowledge in the instructional filled original editorial content on Buttermilk Lipstick as well as the cooking class format videos that can be found on her YouTube channel through regular collaboration with numerous media outlets. Gordon draws from an extensive background in corporate publishing spanning over 13 years on both the business and editorial side focusing on women’s southern lifestyle. She is a classically trained pastry chef and draws from fine dining restaurant experience from a James Beard award winning chef as well as her southern roots upbringing to share cooking, entertaining & style content relevant to today’s modern woman.

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