Basil reins as a favorite ingredient in any number of spicy dishes; a dash or splash or basil adds a seasoned taste that’s simply unparalleled, not to mention warm, nutritious and ultimately comforting. It is considered the ultimate seasoning and has a permanent home in virtually any kitchen. What many don’t know, however, is that basil is also an attractive herb known for its medicinal purposes and cultural symbolism through the ages.
What exactly is basil, where does it come from, and how exactly is it used? Read on to uncover the mystery of this common household herb…
What to look for:
According to Botanical.Com, leafy tops are the distinguishing feature of the two known varieties of basil, which are called bushy basil and sweet basil. Both varieties bloom in the summer, and both colorful whorls of ivory flowers. The basil itself is a rich, green-hued herb known for its deep, aromatic scent and smooth, succulent texture.
Mother Nature loves it:
Basil grows most productively in rich soil and in a warm, sheltered place, and should be planted 10 inches to a foot apart. As is true with many rich, spicy herbs, seeds should be sown in a hot bed in early spring, then removed to a warm border just before summer.
How to use it:
In the kitchen these fragrant herbs are known as prime tools of seasoning, meant to add a sweet, tangy flavor to virtually any dish; particularly soups and salads, ragouts and sauces, as well as gourmet cup dishes. Yet basil also has a whole host of medicinal uses, and is used to treat mild nervous disorders, wandering rheumatic pains, and nervous headaches. When infused in boiling water, basil can remedy the obstruction of internal organs, as well as vomiting and nausea. The seeds can cure warts and have even been known as effective agents against the poison of serpents.
Lastly, basil has been seen throughout the ages as a fragrant gift and romantic gesture. Sprigs of basil are given freely as romantic gifts in some countries, and also as hostess gifts in some countries.
Telling someone about the rich homey goodness of basil is, in many cases, preaching to the converted. People around the world enjoy the delicious taste and rich, aromatic scent of basil, whether it’s enjoyed in a soup or salad, on a pizza, and in another culinary delicacy. Yet this edible herb has a whole, very exciting second life as a medicinal agent—endlessly healing and comforting—and as a symbol of both love and respect in a variety of eras and cultures. Discover the sweet, multi-layered mystery of the basil herb. Pick up some basil today!