The name basil is derived from Greek basileus "king",because of the royal fragrance of this herb,the Greek word basileus "king" means essentially "people's leader":bainein "go" and laos "people".
- Basil and Its Basic Botanical Info.
- Basil Plant Description.
- Basil:Cultivation and Havesting.
- Basil Etymology:royal fragrance and basileus,King's Herb.
- Basil:Its Origin and History.
- Main constituents and Phytochemicals of Basil.
- Uses Summary of Basil.
- Basil Applications and Preparation Tips.
- Basil and Class.
- Research Update:Ocimum basilicum.
Basil:Cultivation and Havesting.:
The seeds should be planted early in spring in rich, moist soil in rows 90cm apart at the rate of 12 to 15 for every 30 cm and covered with soil. Germination requires 5 to 7 days, and thinning the plants is not necessary. Growth is rapid, and no special care other than the usual cultivation practices are required. Flowering shoots are pinched out to extend useful life of plants.
When the plants begin to flower they should be cut 15 to 20 cm above the ground to provide herbs for drying. Several cuttings may be made during the season. The green tender leaves may be used fresh at any time. The herb can be tied in small bundles and hung in a well-ventilated dark room or spread thinly on a screen to dry. After thorough drying, the leaves and flowering tops may be stripped from the stems and packed in closed containers.
Basil contains a very low percent (0.1 - 1.0 %) of essential or volatile oil. An oleoresin containing 2 - 5 % volatile oil is available, as well as an essential oil. The principal components of the volatile oil are methyl chavicol (estragole), linalool and cineol. Basil is one of the spices which does have definite quality differences from one origin to another.
The shortly - stalked, egg shaped leaves, 1 to 2 inches long, are placedopposite to one another on the four-angled stem, the pairs being some distance apart. They are only slightly toothed at their edges and like the stem are downy with soft hairs.
The flowers, with tubular, lipped corollas of a pinkish colour, are arranged on the stem in several crowded, bristly rings or whorls, at the points from which the leaf-stalks spring, and are in bloom from July to September.
The whole herb is aromatic and fragrant, with a faint Thyme-like odour, and like Calamint has been used to make an infusion for similar complaints.
The name of the species, Clinopodium, signifies 'bedfoot.' An old writer says 'the tufts of the plant are like the knobs at the feet of a bed,' but the comparison is not very obvious. By some botanists the plant has been described under the name of C. vulgare, but it is now assigned to the genus, Calamintha.
The Wild Basil, or Hedge Basil (Calamintha Clinopodium) (sometimes called Hedge Calamint), is a straggling plant with somewhat weak-looking, though erect stems, rising to a height of a foot or 18 inches, and thickly covered with soft hairs.
The plant is widely distributed throughout the North Temperate Zone, and is common in England and Scotland in dry hedges and the borders of copses, mostly in high situations. In Ireland it is somewhat rare.
Sweet basil, also known as basil, is probably native to India. Over 150 varieties are now grown around the world for their distinctive flavor and essential oil. The leaves and flowering tops are gathered as the plant comes into flower.
Basil grows best in light, well-drained, nutrient-rich, slightly acidic soil. Tolerated pH range is 4.3 to 8.4.
Requires full sun. Keep well watered, but avoid water logging.
Plant seeds indoors, about 6 weeks before last spring frost date. Sow seeds 6 mm (1/4 inch) deep. Keep soil moist until seeds germinate -about 8 to 14 days -but do not over water. Prior to transplanting, trim tops of seedlings when they are about 15 cm (6 inches) tall, to encourage lateral branching and growth. Plant seedlings outdoors when all danger of frost is past.
Space seedlings 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches) apart.
Does not tolerate temperatures below 5 deg C (41F) well, so cover plants with a plastic row cover or cloches if the temperature dips.
Pinch off the flower stalks so that the plants will continue to produce new leaves.
Susceptible to leaf spot during periods of high humidity or if growing in poorly drained soil, and to infestations of aphids and thrips.
If cultivating indoors as a winter kitchen plant, sow seeds shallowly in small, well-drained pots. Place pots in a warm, well-lit location. Transfer clumps of 3 to 5 plants to 10 cm (4 inch) pots when the seedlings have the second pair of true leaves. Put pots in full sunlight. Plants need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight or 12 hours of artificial light daily. Dwarf varieties such as 'Spicy Globe,' 'Minimum,' and 'Green Bouquet' are ideal for growing on a sunny windowsill.
Growing in containers - Basil is a good herb plant for growing in pots or containers on a sunny deck or patio. It's easy to grow enough basil in a large basket, about six to eight plants, for family use throughout the summer months. Cut open a large plastic garbage bag to line a wooden crate or wicker laundry basket, poking several drainage holes in the bottom and allowing the excess plastic to hang over the sides. Fill with a soil mix to within an inch (2.5 cm) of the top, set the basil plants into the soil, and cut off the excess plastic around the rim. Water the plants in with a transplant fertilizer, and provide a fertilizer feeding every three weeks. You can also start about three weeks earlier in the season and sow basil seeds directly into the container. Indoors, dwarf varieties do best and can provide enough leaves for daily kitchen use. Keep the plants in a warm place with very bright light, or grow them under plant lights, and fertilize every three weeks.
Collection and Harvesting:
Harvest individual leaves at any time during the growing season. (The leaves are tastiest when the plants are young.)
Use scissors or a sharp knife when harvesting just a few leaves, as clean cuts do the least damage to the plant.
The entire upper stem and leaves can be harvested, but leave at least 4 sets of leaves -about 13 cm (5 inches) -or the plant may die. To ensure freshness, re-cut stems and put them in a jug of water in a cool location. Avoid wetting the leaves as they will become discolored.
Blanch leaves and then freeze in ice cubes for later use. Freezing is the best way to preserve basil's flavor.
To dry basil, strip the leaves from the stem and dry in a dark, airy location. Store dried leaves whole in an airtight container.
Sensory quality of Basil:
Fresh basil leaves have a strong and characteristic aroma, not comparable to any other spice, although there is a hint of cloves traceable.
In addition to the "Mediterranean type" most common in the West, there is a plethora of other varieties or cultivars with different flavour, many of which are hybrids. India has its "Sacred Basil" (O. sanctum = O. tenuiflorum) with intensive, somewhat pungent smell; in Thailand, there is another sweet basil with a great licorice aroma (see also cicely). Varieties sold to gardeners in the West include cinnamon basil, camphor basil, anise basil and Mexican spice basil; the latter has a very pleasant, complex and warm flavour, with a wonderful sweet note more reminiscent to cinnamon than to anise.
- 1.The name basil is derived from Greek basileus "king",because of the royal fragrance of this herb,the Greek word basileus "king" means essentially "people's leader":bainein "go" and laos "people".
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