Some basil varieties.

Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 14:02:51 EST
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Esther Czekalski <E.Czekalski.M.BULL.COM>
Subject: Re: brand new

> what is the difference between Thai basil and sweet basil, etc.

There are many kinds of basils and they vary in color and taste. As I remember the thai basil has smaller, darker colored leaves and I think the flavor is moredelicate. Sweet basil is the kind you buy when you buy it at the grocery. I a also like to grow purple ruffles. Which stays smaller and is even more fussy than sweet basil. But when you add a chiffonade (thin strips) of it to a salad it is so pretty. Also look for mammoth basil which has crumply leaves big enough to wrap small savories inside. I learned about these from [herb] catalogs.

You could still start most things from seed but your growing season is going to be shorter. You might want to check here with specifics.

From: Colette Dunkley <gb81.DIAL.PIPEX.COM>

> There are many kinds of basils and they vary in color and taste.

Lemon basil is delicious. Ocimum citriodorum.

Bush basil (Greek basil?)doesnt have the strong taste of sweet basil but is a pretty garnish for tomato salad.

Italian basil have a very pronounced flavour.

The purple sorts "purple ruffles" and "Dark Opal" have a different flavour....not so good as the green sort. They taste fine in a salad but make disgusting pesto :-( IMHO (they look good in flower arrangements)

Cinnamon basil smells lovely but does not taste nice.

Holy Basil (Thai basil) is a much larger plant than standard sweet basil and has a slightly serrated edge to the leaf. its flavour is not as keen as sweet basil.

Hope this helps

From: "M. Dee Medley" <mcsmdm.ADMIN.AC.EDU>

I've gone a little crazy with basils this year and decided to try a few to compare flavors this weekend. I had a bunch of plum tomatoes, so I cut them up, put a little red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt on three bowls of them, and added clippings from three of the new basil plants. I tried lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and sweet basil, and they were all good, but the lemon is the star, at least for this little salad. The regular sweet basil had a stronger flavor than the cinnamon although unfortunately the lovely whiff of cinnamon disappeared in the mixture.

I've still got several to try - licorice, Greek, and piccolo, and I've got seeds for a yellow-green curly leaf variety that I will sow when I return from a trip. Do any of you have better ideas for comparison-tasting?

From: Karen Raley <KRaley.GNN.COM>

No one has yet mentioned African Blue Basil, which is a really nice one. It does not make seeds, so you have to grow it from cuttings. It's leaves look something like cinnamon basil's--dark green with purple. The plant, if its flower stalks are kept pinched, will grow to about 4-5 feet in breadth and 3-4 feet in height in one season here in NC. The leaves are more resinous than those of the other basils, and it looks almost like an ornamental, but it is not. Although it is not especially good for pesto since the leaves are a bit more substantial than those of the sweet or green curley basils, it is wonderful for seasoning. It is my favorite of the basils and has the classic basil taste, only more intense.

African Blue is great as dried or fresh seasoning in cooked or fresh dishes. As for drying, it seems unsurpassed to me. Since it makes no seed, the flower spikes are soft enough to be included in with the dried leaves. This basil retains its punch much more than others do when dried. (Be sure to dry in the dark or it will turn nasty dark brown.) I also find it is the very best basil for making vinegar according to the following recipe:

Place a generous portion of sprigs of African Blue Basil, Onitis or Greek Oregano, and Thyme in a dark bottle. Fill with red wine vinegar. Wait a couple of weeks and use (within a year).

Another use for this basil is in floral arrangements. The flower spikes are purple--and rather delicate. They can be used fresh or dry. Very aromatic. When putting the fresh sprays in the bouquet, they will wilt pretty badly at first, but be patient, they come back up with time. A good plan is to put them in water immediately upon cutting.

I also use this basil in teas and potpourris. The only thing is--you have to find a plant somewhere to get your start. In keeping it over the winter, make cuttings late in the fall while the plant is still sending out new growth, and be sure to give these plants plenty of light thru the winter or they will sicken and die.

From: Pat Peck <arpeck.FREENET.SCRI.FSU.EDU>

Hi Dee,
If you want to try a wonderful taste treat, try slicing tomatoes add a chiffonade of basil or whole basil leaves, with thin slices of mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, and vinegar (Balsamic expecially good). Salt and pepper to taste. Let set for a while before serving. I've tried it with different varieties of basil. Of course, Sweet Basil is best.

From: Pat Peck <arpeck.FREENET.SCRI.FSU.EDU>

Hi Y'all,
My daughter is growing herbs in large earthenware container so she can't harvest enough basil to make traditional basil pesto. Found a great recipe for basil pesto using small amount of basil. Also doesn't call for nuts, which some cannot eat.

2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
2 Tsps. basil (use more if available)
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup fresh parsley (fresh readily available at grocery store and cheap)
8 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
½ cup Parmesan cheese (I usually use 3 Tbsp. Romano in half cup combo)

Just put together in blender or food processor until smooth.

Also wonder if anyone else has tried drying basil by placing in between layers of Kosher salt in tight sealing container. It's worked for me. I don't think I'd make pesto out of it, but it retains it's flavor and color and as most recipes I use it in call for salt, I just reduce the amount of salt needed in recipe. Great for winter when my basil is not readily available.

From: Sherry Rose <sherry.GORGE.NET>

All of this discussion on basils reminded me of a June 1994 article by "Sunset" magazine on basils and a taste test. Here it is (with apologies for my OCR):



Basils, by Lauren Bonar Swezey

When you love growing and cooking with basil, nuances among green, large-leaf varieties can mean the difference between superb and merely good flavor. Catalogs rave about all the varieties they sell, but basils with Italian names seem to garner the most superlatives. Are these basils really as good as everyone claims, or can you plant just about any basil and get the same result?

To find out, we grew seven varieties last summer in Sunset's test garden - 'Genova Profumatissima', 'Genovese', 'Broadleaf Sweet', 'Large Green', 'Lettuce Leaf', 'Napoletano', and 'Sweet'. These are traditional largeleaf basils commonly used fresh and for pesto.

Our panel of seven judges consisted of both foodies and gardeners who love to cook with basil. First, the judges tasted freshly harvested leaves. A few days later, each variety was made into a simple pesto and tasted with pasta (we pursed 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and well drained; I cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese; and ½ cup olive oil in a blender).

Tasters were amazingly consistent in their preferences. The surprise was that the hands-down favorite for fresh basil - 'Napoletano', chosen by six out of seven tasters-wasn't even a runnerup in the pesto category (most said it was too mild). Here judges Preferred 'Sweet' by a margin of six to one.

When eaten fresh, 'Napoletano' was praised for its strong fragrance, good flavor with mild anise undertones. lack of astringency, and tender, handsome, crinkly leaves. A close second was 'Lettuce Leaf', sometimes sold as 'Lettuce-Leaved' ("sweet, mildly spicy, somewhat anisey, with a soft, crinkly leaf"). On the other hand, 'Sweet' was considered sweet but mild, with more fragrance than flavor-that is, until it was made into pesto.

As pesto, it elicited the following comments: "clear, sweet basil flavor and attractive color"; "the herb comes through strongly and pleasantly"; "mellow with nice aftertaste." Runners-up for pesto were 'Genova Profuniatissima', 'Genovese', and Broadleaf Sweet', although two judges said all varieties are "more than acceptable" for pesto.

The clear message here is that it's best to grow at least two kinds of basil. Plant one, such as 'Napoletano', for using fresh in salads, on baked or barbecued fish, and in any dish that uses freshly harvested leaves. For pesto, flavors emerge stronger from completely different varieties, particularly 'Sweet'.

Where to order seeds

Seeds of the panel's favorite varieties are available from the following catalogs (catalogs are free unless noted),
Nichols Garden Nursery. 'Genovese', 'LettuceLeaved'.
Shepherd's Garden Seeds. The catalog costs $1. 'Broadleaf Sweet', 'Genova Profumatissima', 'Napoletano', 'Lettuce Leaf'.
Territorial Seed Company. 'Sweet'.

From: Ellee Margileth <emargile.UTK.EDU>

>Any suggestions for uses of cinnamon basil. I added a couple leaves to the ice tea I brew which turned out very good and am looking for more uses.
>PS; please, no pesto suggestions.... I must be the only person that does not like pesto!

I once had cinnamon basil cookies and thought it was this elaborate recipe.
It turned out that she added cinnamon basil to a sugar cookie recipe.
They were delicious.

From: Fran <frich.TENET.EDU>

> Any suggestions for uses of cinnamon basil. I added a couple leaves to

Here's one - it's one we (local herb society) collected for the cookbook we are going to publish later this year. It hasn't been tested yet (except by Martha, who submitted it) - would love to know if anybody makes it and what they thought!

Chocolate-Nut Torte with Cinnamon Basil
(Martha Robinson, from Basil by Janet Hazen)

8 oz semisweet chocolate
6 oz (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter
1 cup minced fresh cinnamon basil or sweet basil leaves
4 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, or nut of choice
2 T sifted all-purpose flour
Whipped cream, for garnish
Sprigs of basil, for garnish

Heat oven to 350F. Grease 2 8" cake pans and dust lightly with flour. In top of double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over barely simmering water, stirring till melted and smooth. Remove top of boiler from heat and add minced basil; mix well and cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with ½ cup sugar till pale yellow and mixture forms ribbons that slowly dissolve when the beaters are lifted. Add the chocolate mixture, hazelnuts, and flour; mix well.

Using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites till soft peaks form. Add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat till whites are stiff but not dry. Gently fold ⅓ of egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whites and mix gently.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake in the center of oven for 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack. To serve, invert cakes from pans and cut into wedges. Garnish with whipped cream and sprigs of basil.

From: Joyce Schillen <gardenpg.CDSNET.NET>

>Any suggestions for uses of cinnamon basil. I added a couple leaves to

I use cinnamon basil wherever I would use sweet basil for an exotic flavor. It's also good in fruit salads.

From: Ellee Margileth <emargile.UTK.EDU>

>>I once had cinnamon basil cookies and thought it was this elaborate recipe.
>How did she use the basil? Dried or fresh? Minced finely? This sounds yummy!

I believe that she used it fresh but I'm not sure how fine she chopped it up.

From: Cathleen Kimball <CKimb28370.AOL.COM>

As to uses for cinnamon basil, it works great as a base for herbal teas.

Also a favorite non-culinary use is to let it go to flower and then include it in bouquets. It gives off the most wonderful spicey cinnamon fragrance. I like mix it with calendula flowers and the purple oregano blossoms and what ever else is in bloom in the herb garden at the time.

From: Jill Lewis <Jill_Lewis.MCKINSEY.COM>

I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for Spicy Globe Basil. I found this beautiful little plant over this past weekend, and bought it because of its lovely fragrance. Definitely a spicy one!

Now, could someone help me out with how to use it? Would it be the same as sweet basil?

TIA for any and all suggestions!

From: Frank Whitman <writething.STLNET.COM>

re spicy globe basil. I have grown it for four years now. Its almost all I use, well, except for lemon basil. In summer salads I put a few leaves of each, the spicy globe and the lemon. I make herbal vinegar with the lemon, the dry the spicy globe and use it all winter long whenever basil is called for. It's wonderful.

From: Esther Czekalski <E.Czekalski.M.BULL.COM>

> I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for Spicy Globe Basil.

You could use it like regular basil but I would try to find simpler ways than pesto, for example, to give the different character of these a chance. Maybe a fresh sprinkle on a very delicate soup or on grilled veggies.

Just a thought.

From: Sara Anne Corrigan <SaraAnneC.AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Spicy Globe Basil

you can indeed use it just like "regular basil" ... subtle flavor distinctions are pleasant

From: Michael Bailes <frgntgar.OZEMAIL.COM.AU>

The little leaved basils are the best for pesto but a little time consuming to prepare.
You can make a pesto from any herb.

Culinary herb FAQ: