Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Sweet basil, with it's wonderful aroma and flavor, is one of the most popular and widely grown herbs in the world. In the West, basil is associated with Italian cooking, so you may be surprised to find that basil originated in the far eastern countries of India, Pakistan and Thailand. Basil is an annual herb to 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall with green stems (usually woody at the base) that are square in cross section. Basil has opposite leaves, 2-4 in (5.1-10.2cm) long, oval and slightly toothed. The tiny purple or white flowers arranged in flattened whorls that encircle the stems, one whorl above another. There are so many uses for basil that every herb gardener will want to have a plant or two. It is an attractive plant that works well in vegetable, herb and flower gardens. Basil has a warm, resinous, clove-like flavor and fragrance. The flowers and leaves are best used fresh and added only during the last few minutes of cooking. Basil works well in combination with tomatoes. Finely chopped basil stirred into mayonnaise makes a good sauce for fish. Use as a garnish for vegetables, chicken and egg dishes.
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