Cold Tolerance Of Basil: Does Basil Like Cold Weather?
Basil is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking. Many cooks like to use it because its flavor is mild and aromatic. However, some people are allergic to basil and suffer from severe symptoms when they eat it. So if you have such allergy or suffer from any other problem with basil then you need to know about cold tolerance of basil.
Basil is a member of the mint family which includes oregano, thyme, marjoram and cilantro. Basil’s leaves are small (about 1/2 inch long) and greenish-yellow in color. They are usually dried before being ground into powder or added to soups and stews. Some varieties of basil produce flowers while others do not.
The main constituents of basil are:
Basil Oil – a clear liquid oil that is odorless and tasteless. It has been used since ancient times in culinary preparations. Basil oil has many health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, antiseptic effects, antibacterial properties and anti-fungal properties.
Basil contains more than 12 antioxidants which are very beneficial for the human body. As basil has high antioxidant properties so it helps improve immunity.
Sesquiterpene, a compound found in basil, helps treat diabetes by improving the body’s response to insulin and also by reducing stress-induced overeating.
This herb is considered to be a brain booster. It enhances mental clarity and improves memory. Basil contains vitamin K, Omega 6 and vitamin A. It also has a good amount of minerals and amino acids that are essential for a healthy brain.
Basil is highly nutritious and helps strengthen the body’s immune system. It is extremely rich in vitamin K that strengthens bones and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Here, you will learn about how cold tolerant basil is and under what conditions it grows best:
How Cold Tolerant Is Basil?
Cold tolerance of basil varies from one type to another. While some varieties can tolerate cold weather, some cannot bear freezing temperatures at all. Still others fall in between these two extremes. The type of basil that you decide to grow depends on where you live and the type of cuisine that you want to cook.
If you live in a place that has cold winters, then it is best to grow those varieties of basil that are extremely cold tolerant. Some of these include:
African blue basil (O. v. compactum)- This type of basil is extremely cold tolerant. It has a spicy, woody fragrance and flavor and is used in salads, sauces, casseroles and stuffings. African blue basil grows to about 12 inches in height.
Cinnamon basil (O. cinnamomeum)- As the name suggests, this type of basil has a spicy cinnamon flavor. It contains a high amount of antioxidants and is often used in tea and smoothies. It is very cold tolerant.
Cream basil (O. Americanum var album)- This type of basil is also known as lettuce-leaf basil and is extremely cold tolerant. It has a spicy, nutty flavor and is often used to flavor tomato dishes, soups, sauces, meats and eggs.
Purple basil (O. v. purpurescens)- This type of basil has a unique, spicy fragrance and flavor and is extremely cold tolerant. It is used in soups, sauces, salads, rice and fish dishes.
Greek basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Horasan’)- Grown in Greece for more than 2000 years and used by Romans to lay the floor of the Coliseum, this type of basil has a spicy, camphor fragrance and flavor and is not cold tolerant at all. It is commonly used in salads, sauces, casseroles, eggs and stuffings.
If you live in a place that has mild winters, then you can grow varieties which do not like extreme cold but can take a light frost. These include:
Spicy basil (O. v. bi compactum)- This type of basil is not very tolerant to cold and can only tolerate a light frost. Spicy basil has a spicy, camphor fragrance and flavor and is used in tomato dishes, salads, eggs, sauces and casseroles.
Lettuce-leaf basil (O. Americanum)- This type of basil has a strong, spicy scent and flavor and can tolerate only light frost. It is used in tomato dishes, sauces, eggs, salads and casseroles.
Four o’clock basil (O. quadri petalum)- This type of basil is extremely sensitive to cold and can only tolerate light frost. It is used in soups, salads, sauces, casseroles, rice and fish dishes.
A little about Basil Nutrition Facts
Basil leaves are an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. They also contain a good amount of dietary fiber. Basil leaves are highly nutritious and beneficial for your overall health.
How to Select and Store
Basil should be bright green in color, without any black or brown spots. The stems should be firm and the leaves should be crisp. While softer stems are perfectly fine to use, you might want to avoid using any with soft or mushy spots.
It is best to store basil in a plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for about a week.
If you plan to grow your own basil at home, it is important that you only buy starts that have been disease and pest resistant. There are many varieties of basil available including the common sweet basil and a few others.
How to Use
Basil leaves can be used in a wide variety of recipes ranging from meat dishes, soups, salads, pastas, vegetables and more. It is one of the most versatile herbs that you can find.
Whether you are making fresh pesto or basil flavored tomatoes, this amazing herb can lend a very distinct flavor and zest to any dish. You can use fresh basil in many different ways but here are a few ideas that you might want to try out.
RECIPE IDEA: Pesto is one of the most popular ways to use basil. You can make your own or simply buy it ready made. It is excellent on pasta, pizza or as a spread.
RECIPE IDEA: Tomato Basil Soup is a wonderful way to use up all those ripe tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market. Add some shrimp and you have a delicious, summer meal.
RECIPE IDEA: Caprese is a simple appetizer of sliced fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil leaves. So easy and so delicious!
RECIPE IDEA: This is a really simple yet tasty recipe for roasted potatoes with basil and Parmesan cheese.
Sounds good right?
RECIPE IDEA: Pesto Pasta is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh homemade pesto. Add chicken or shrimp for a delicious meal. This is also a great way to use up any leftover pesto!
RECIPE IDEA: There are so many different types of basil and they all have unique flavor profiles. For example, lemon basil has a very unique lemony taste and anise basil has a flavor like licorice. You might want to experiment with these varieties and add a bit to your dishes for a change.
Basil Nutrition Facts Serving Size 1 cup, raw (20g) Per Serving % Daily Value* Calories 7 Calories from Fat 1 Total Fat 0.1g 0% Saturated Fat 0g 0% Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g Monounsaturated Fat 0g Cholesterol 0mg 0% Sodium 1mg 0% Potassium 55.9mg 2% Carbohydrates 1.5g 1% Dietary Fiber 0.4g 2% Sugar 0.8g Protein 0.5g Vitamin A 10% · Vitamin C 33% Calcium 1% · Iron 1% *Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Basil Leaves By The Numbers
If you are using basil in your cooking or considering growing it in your garden here are a few numbers that you might find interesting.
50: The number of insect species that feed on basil. That means if you plant it, they will come!
2,500: The approximate number of varieties of basil that exist.
1,000: The approximate number of years that basil has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal uses.
0: The number of people who don’t like it (at least according to Google!
Tips For Using Basil
It is easy to dry fresh basil and preserve it for later use. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Harvest leaves (and flowers) when the plant is in full bloom. Strip the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a baking sheet. Place the tray in an oven that has been set to 150 degrees. Allow the leaves to dry for about six hours. Once dry, store the leaves in an airtight container out of direct sunlight.
You can also freeze basil (see the tips above). Just place a paper towel between each leaf before placing them in a sealable plastic bag. By separating the leaves you allow air to circulate and the leaves will stay fresh much longer.
Be careful when planting straight into your garden. Basil does not transplant well. Instead, start your seeds inside or buy a plant.
History Of Basil
Basil was being cultivated in Southeast Asia since ancient times and was being utilized for both culinary and medicinal uses. (1)
The ancient Greeks were also growing basil and utilizing it in their cuisine. The Romans further expanded its use and named the herb after the Greek word for “royal.” At the time it was reserved for royals and high-ranking politicians. (2)
During the Dark Ages it nearly became extinct in Europe, but was reintroduced in the 1500s as Italian immigrants were arriving on the continent. (2)
Today it is one of the most commonly used herbs in American kitchens.
In some cultures, it is considered good luck to grow basil, especially near the door of your house.
Some historians have suggested that basil may have been one of the three herbs, along with mint and rosemary, that were used to make the very first “herb tea” or “toddy.”
It does appear in many traditional herbal teas such as tisanes made from yarrow, mullein, and/or peppermint. It has also been utilized in many traditional medicines for centuries.
You can also use it to make your home smell good by putting some basil plants around the house.
Common Basil Types
If you’re growing basil, you may notice that not all basil is the same. There are different types of basil including:
Genovese: One of the most popular varieties and a favorite in Italian cuisine. The leaves are a bit wider and flatter than other varieties. It has sweet flavor with a mild undertone of cinnamon.
Sources & references used in this article:
The temperature of Europe during the Holocene reconstructed from pollen data by BAS Davis, S Brewer, AC Stevenson, J Guiot – Quaternary science reviews, 2003 – Elsevier
Complex regional pain syndrome type I in children by ECTH Tan, B Zijlstra, ML Essink, RJA Goris… – Acta …, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Clouds, rain and rainmaking by BJ Mason – 1975 – books.google.com