Basil, conservation and use in the kitchen
The basil (Ocimum Bassilicum) It is an aromatic herb whose fresh or dried leaves are much appreciated in the kitchen. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is easily grown in pots and planters with basic care.
This plant has its origin in the islands of the Aegean Sea, Persia and India. Traditionally it was used medicinally. The ancient Egyptians used basil for its antiseptic action and in the Far East it was considered a medicine for cough, kidney ailments and diarrhea.
In general, when talking about basil, reference is made to the common basil, also called moruna basil. However, the term basil also refers to other plants of the genus Ocimum.
The fine basil It consists of the leaves of the plant Ocimum minimum. It is very similar to common basil, but it is grown in smaller quantities. The main difference is that its leaves are smaller, and its aroma is slightly different, softer.
On the other hand, there are more than 150 varieties of basil.
Composition and effects:
Basil essential oil, mainly responsible for its aroma and medicinal properties, constitutes approximately 0.04% of the fresh plant and 0.4% of the dried one.
Basil is considered a gastrointestinal mucosa stimulant, so it stimulates appetite and facilitates the digestion.
Basil purchase and conservation:
Fresh or dried basil leaves can be purchased in the market.
Fresh leaves should not be stored in the refrigerator, as they lose part of their aroma. They can be preserved in a glass jarsubmerged in olive oil. In addition, in this way it is possible to flavor the oil, which can be used later to season stews and salads.
Dried leaves should be kept in a airtight jar tightly closed, away from light and moisture.
Uses of basil in the kitchen:
Basil is used as a condiment and flavoring in many countries. The taste of the fresh leaves reminds of that of the clove, while that of the dried ones looks more like curry. In turn, the sheets can be used whole or split.
They are used as a condiment to flavor the salads and to the pasta and pizzas Typical of Italian cuisine. They also aromatize fish and roasts based on meat, sauces, croquettes, meatballs, and even vegetable pate. In England it is also common to use basil in sausage making.
It should always be used with moderation and add it only at the end of the preparation, since with cooking it increases its flavor.
This herb is also included as an ingredient in the preparation of various and varied sauces, such as tomato sauce and pesto sauce.
In addition, it is quite common to use basil mixed with other condiments or spices Its flavor is enhanced by mixing the leaves with garlic, and is also often used together with thyme.