What Are The Varieties Of Basil?
The following table shows the varieties of basil that are grown commercially in the United States. They are listed according to their common names, which may or may not have been derived from Latin words. Some of these names derive from Greek words; they do not necessarily mean what you think they mean. (For example, “lemon” means both “lilac” and “lime.” It is possible that the name was changed because it sounded better.
But if so, why didn’t someone just change the word “lemon”?
Common Name Meaning Lemon Basil A type of basil with a strong lemon flavor. Sweet Basil A type of basil with a milder taste than lemon basil. It is sometimes called Italian basil. Commonly used in pasta sauces and stews. Gorgonzola Basil An herbaceous variety of basil that grows wild throughout Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
Used to flavor pizza and many other foods. The variety is named after a blue, cow’s milk cheese that is produced in the area where this basil grows wild. Genovese basil A dark green type of basil that is used in pasta sauces and other Italian dishes. Cinnamon Basil Lends a sweet, spicy flavor to hot and sour soups and meat stews. Thai Basil An herb that has a strong licorice taste. It is used in Asian cuisine, especially in Thai dishes such as chicken coconut soup. Purple Basil Has a strong anise flavor and is used to flavor syrups and teas. It is an ornamental species. Lemon Basil A type of basil that has a strong lemon flavor. Bush Basil The leaves are smaller than the other types of basils. It is used for cooking and in herbal medicine. Cinnamon Basil The leaves are dark green with a spicy scent. It is used in teas and to make syrup. Large-leaved Basil Has large leaves that are used for cooking and in herbal medicine. Spike Basil Also known as summer basil or Thai basil, it is used to make tea and curry paste, and as a garnish. Opal Basil A highly ornamental plant, its flowers are variegated; the leaves are blue-green with whitish spots. It has a spicy anise flavor and is used to flavor syrups. Purple Basil Its purple flowers are highly attractive and the leaves have a strong anise flavor. It is used to make tea and in herbal medicine. Cinnamon basil Its gray-green leaves have a pungent, spicy scent and flavor. It is used in teas. Greek basil Has a mild, anise flavor and is used in herbal medicines.
(The kind you cook with is not the same as the kind you play bingo with. You can read more about bingo at my online bingo sites page. )
A Brief History Of Some Varieties Of Basil That Are Used In Cooking
Genovese basil: This type of basil is native to southern Europe and is among the most popular basils used in cooking. It has a more intense flavor than sweet basil, lending itself particularly well to tomato dishes. It is also known as sweet basil.
Greek basil: This type of basil is a little sweeter than the common variety and has a more subtle flavor. It is often used in poultry dishes.
Purple basil: This type of basil has a milder flavor than most other types of basil and can be found both in purple and green varieties. It does not keep as well as other basils when dried, so it is often eaten fresh in salads or cooked lightly with other foods.
Spike basil: This type of basil is frequently used in Asian cooking and lends a spicy flavor to foods.
Sweet basil: This type of basil is often used in pesto, as well as in tomato and mozzarella salads. It has a very strong anise flavor and is one of the most commonly grown herbs in Italian gardens.
Thai basil: Also known as horapha, it is native to Southeast Asia and has purple stems, like purple basil. Its flavor is a little more spicy than that of other basils. It is used in Thai cooking in soups, curries and salads.
Anise basil: Also known as Japanese basil and shatawa, it has delicate green leaves with purple veins and purple flowers. Its flavor is sweeter than that of common basil and is used in many dishes in Japan, Korea and China.
Cinnamon basil: This type of basil is a favorite culinary herb in Mexico, Central America and India. Its flavor is spicy and sweet, but not as strong as that of common basil. It is used fresh in salads and lightly cooked dishes.
Lemon basil: This type of basil has small green leaves with a distinctive lemon flavor. It is generally used in desserts and sweet dishes and as a tea.
Pesto basil: This is a type of basil grown specifically for the purpose of making pesto sauce. The Genovese basil variety is the most popular for this purpose. Pesto is a green Italian sauce traditionally made from garlic, pine nuts, freshly grated parmesan cheese and either olive oil or the oil from the basil leaves. It is used as a spread for bread and in pasta dishes.
Sweet mint basil: This type of basil is a cross between common basil and mint and has purple flowers. It is used in Asian cooking and has a minty flavor.
Spicy basil: This type of basil is also known as Thai basil, erva santa and yerba santa and is native to Brazil, where it is used to make a popular tea. It has an anise flavor and is used in Asian cooking, especially in curries.
Tulsi basil: This type of basil is also known as holy basil, although it is not actually a type of Ocimum basilicum plant. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine and is highly respected in Hindu culture. It has a strong flavor and fragrance and is used in cooking curries.
Sources & references used in this article:
A distillation method for the quantitative determination of malonaldehyde in rancid foods by BG Tarladgis, BM Watts, MT Younathan… – Journal of the …, 1960 – Wiley Online Library
Chemical characterization of basil (Ocimum spp.) based on volatile oils by RF Vieira, JE Simon – Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 2006 – Wiley Online Library
Ocimum sp. (Basil): Botany, Cultivation, Pharmaceutical Properties, and Biotechnology by O Makri, S Kintzios – Journal of herbs, spices & medicinal plants, 2008 – Taylor & Francis
Hydroponic greenhouse basil production: Comparing systems and cultivars by KJ Walters, CJ Currey – HortTechnology, 2015 – journals.ashs.org
Variations in phenolic composition and antioxidant properties among 15 basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) cultivars by EM Kwee, ED Niemeyer – Food Chemistry, 2011 – Elsevier
Advances in baking technology by BS Kamel, CE Stauffer – 2013 – books.google.com
Antigenic Relationships among the” Newer” Myxoviruses (Para influenza). by MK Cook, BE Andrews, HH Fox, HC Turner… – American journal of …, 1959 – cabdirect.org
The multiple factors determining retinotopic order in the growth of optic fibres into the optic tectum by JE Cook, TJ Horder, HB Barlow… – … Transactions of the …, 1977 – royalsocietypublishing.org