Basil has that gorgeous smell of summer and can and should be added to your meals every day – unless you have an allergy, then definitely ignore that!
Basil is native to southern Asia and the Middle East but will grow as an annual plant in most moderate climates. It was introduced to Europe as a culinary herb in the 16th century.
Basil has, for centuries, been considered to be a herb of love and purity and myths and legends have often been attached to it such as:
The belief that it will open the gates of heaven, or
That a sprig worn in the hair will attract your loved one.
It’s been cultivated for thousands of years and been used medicinally as well as in the kitchen for just as long. It was believed to cure many different ailments from coughs and colds through to digestive aids. Perhaps the most common use of basil today is its addition to tomato dishes and many people refer to it as the tomato herb.
Medicinal uses for Basil
Basil belongs to the same family of plants as mint and is considered to be a good digestive aid. Herbalists use it to help cure headaches, constipation and sickness.
A small cup of basil tea after a meal aids digestion.
It has also been used cosmetically to add shine to dull hair.
Basil is always tastier if used fresh but can be stored by freezing or drying.
Hang sprigs or small bunches upside down in a dark, warm but airy room until dry. Crumble leaves into a sealable glass jar and label. Store out of direct light.
Freeze whole sprigs quickly on a flat tray and store in the freezer in sealable containers. Label.
Grow a pot or two on the kitchen windowsill, outside in your herb garden or anywhere in between!
P.S. This is kind of an extract from ’20 Everyday Herbs’ where there’s lots of growing info along with nineteen other everyday herbs you could be enjoying at home… Pop over to Herb Books and you can download from iTunes, Barnes & Noble. Kobo and yes, even Amazon!