Also: lat: "Ocimum basilicum", basil herb, gentleman's herb, brain herb,
Josefskräutlein, Königsbalsam, Königskraut or Pfefferkraut called.
The name "basil" comes from the Greek and
means "royal", probably because of the spicy, noble scent.
Already 4000 years ago basil was used as a spice in India. It then reached the Mediterranean via Persia, where most of the European basil is still grown today. The main exporters are Italy, France, Morocco and Egypt. The plant has only been grown in Germany since the 12th century.
Basil belongs to the mint family and is mostly cultivated as an annual plant here, but in the Mediterranean countries it is also available as a perennial plant.
There are around 60 different varieties that differ in appearance, height, aroma and ingredients.
Basil is an upright, bushy herbaceous plant. It can be 20-60 cm high. The leaves have an intense green color and are egg-shaped to oval, whereby they can be 1.5-5.0 cm long and 0.8-3.2 cm wide. In the middle they are rounded upwards and, as with all mint family, slightly hairy. These hairs are glandular hairs that release the essential oil to the outside. This evaporates when exposed to sunlight, which creates the aromatic scent.
The basil blooms from June to September. The inflorescences grow terminally. The flowers have a short stalk and are white to pale pink in color. They are bell-shaped and two-lipped, with the upper lip being significantly larger than the lower lip.
However, only the leaves and not the flowers are used in the kitchen. On the contrary, one tries to delay the flowering time of the basil as long as possible in order to have more leaves available for seasoning.
Since basil needs a lot of light and a lot of heat (15-20 ° C), it is mainly grown in the Mediterranean region.
Sowing begins in small pots from March to April. The young basil plants can then be released outdoors from June. Basil can also be grown in small pots over the winter.
When harvesting basil you should make sure that you always harvest the entire tip of the shoot and possibly also the main leaves of the next two leaf branches. Then new sprouts sprout, from which the shoot tips can be harvested again. This prevents the plant from blooming, the harvest time is kept as long as possible and the plant becomes more abundant.
Basil is available fresh, both in pots and just the individual stems packaged with leaves. You can also buy it frozen or dried and then rubbed or ground. But basil is also available in stores.
Basil contains between 0.04-0.70% essential oil. The main components of the essential oil are represented by linalool, estragole and eugenol. It also contains tannins, terpenes and flavonoids.
Taste and smell:
The smell is intensely spicy and aromatic.
Basil tastes pleasantly spicy to peppery.
Cooking and kitchen use with typical dishes:
Only the leaves of the basil plant are used as herbs for seasoning. They are freshly picked and used immediately or frozen. To dry it, cut the plant off just above the ground. The whole plants are gathered into small bundles and dried in a shady, but warm and dry place. Only when they are completely dry are they shredded and stored airtight. However, the basil loses its aroma considerably when it is dried and can no longer be compared with the fresh basil.
The fresh cabbage should not be cooked as it will also lose its aroma. Therefore, you should only add basil shortly before the end of the cooking process. Basil is particularly well represented in Italian cuisine.
Basil is used for:
Soups: tomato soup, potato soup, onion soup, minestrone, pea soup, bean soup
Salads: Tomato, Bean Salad, Tomatoes with Mozzarella, Zucchini Salad, Corn Salad
Meat: Roast lamb, roast pork, pork chops, pork goulash, ground pork, roast veal, veal steaks, veal stew, roast duck, roast goose, chicken and vegetable preparations
Sauces: pesto, tomato sauce, herb sauce, salsa verde, sauce vinaigrette
Vegetable side dish: Tomato, bell pepper, eggplant, mushrooms, peas, grilled tomato
Others: herb quark, cheese, vegetable juices, pickling cucumbers, zucchini, ...
Use within dietetics:
Basil has weak healing properties due to the essential oils. For example, it has a digestive, antispasmodic and gas-reducing effect.
It can be used with all types of diet.
However, basil also contains estragole. This ingredient is carcinogenic and mutagenic. Although no health damage has been identified in humans, it should still not be used in high doses over a long period of time.