Availability: May- August
Quantity: per plant
Use: Consumed raw or cooked
Grown by: Student Organic Farm
Find a location where it is exposed to sun for atleast 6-8 hrs/day
Make sure plants are about 12-18 inches apart
Ideal soil type is moist-well drained and contains a pH of 6-7
If planting in a pot use a large pot to keep plants from drying out
Protect plants from cold spells since it is very frost sensitive
Storage and Preparation
Short Term Storage: Fresh basil should be stored at room temperature. Trim the ends of the stems of the basil. Place them in a glass jar filled with cold water (much like a fresh flower bouquet). Place a plastic bag loosely (still allowing for ventilation) over the basil leaves at the top of the jar.
Long Term Storage: Basil leaves can be dried or frozen. To dry leaves, tie in bunches and hang indoors in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Leaves should dry in 5-10 days. Leaves can also be dried in the oven. Set oven temperature to lowest possible setting. Place basil leaves on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in the oven with the door ajar to allow ventilation. Keep leaves in oven until brittle. If leaves turn brown, this means that they became too hot in the drying process and will not have flavor so should be discarded. Once leaves are dry, store them in an air tight container for up to 6 months. Basil can be frozen easily to preserve flavor and color. Chop basil leaves finely and combine with water making a paste. Pour paste into ice cube trays to store. Once the cubes are frozen solid, place them in plastic bag in fridge. Basil cubes can keep for up to 1 year. Alternatively, combine basil with oil (olive or vegetable) in a food processor to make a paste and pour paste into ice cube trays for later use.
Preparation: Wash leaves under cool running water to remove dirt and pat dry before cooking or eating.
Pairings and Nutrition
Pairing: Basil is the most commonly used fresh herb. Its sweet but subtle flavor goes well with a wide range of foods. Basil pairs with tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. It is the featured ingredient in a traditional pesto which goes well with breads and cheeses. Basil is diverse in that it is utilized in many different types of cuisine such as Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Italian cooking.
Nutrition: Basil is very low in calories and high in vitamin K.
Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 pound ground chicken
2 Thai or serrano chiles, minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 lime wedges
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat.
Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.
Remove shallot mixture from pan.
Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well. Return chicken to pan over medium heat. Add chiles; cook 1 minute. Add shallot mixture to pan.
Stir in fish sauce and next 3 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat; stir in basil and juice.
Serve with lime wedges.
Basic Basil Pesto
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, (2-3 bunches)
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 large clove garlic, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place basil, walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.