If a person loves herbs, they love basil. It seems to be everyone's favorite herb and the recipes that take advantage of this fresh and spicy leaf are endless. Growing Basil
- Basil is an annual, and is easily grown from seed. There are over two dozen types of basil including lettuce-leaf which has large leaves, cinnamon basil and the purple leafed varieties. Basil is not frost tolerant at all, so be sure to only plant after the soil has warmed completely. Though it needs full sun, basil does need more moisture than some herbs,
- so keep it watered; especially in pots. You can bring basil inside as a window herb if you plant the seeds in pots during warm weather and bring inside to grow in a bright and sunny window when cold.
- Using and Preserving Basil
- Basil can be frozen, dried, or preserved in oil and it's delicious however you choose to preserve it. Basil is also available year round in most produce sections. Add leaves to salads or sandwiches along with your lettuce. Add basil to sautés or soups at the last minute to preserve flavor. Basil is also wonderful in herbal vinegars. Try mixing it with oregano and thyme.
- Also called laurel leaf or bay laurel, this aromatic herb comes from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean.
- Early Greeks and Romans attributed magical properties to the laurel leaf and it has long been a symbol of honor, celebration and triumph, as in "winning your laurels." The two main varieties of bay leaf are Turkish (which has 1 to 2-inch long oval leaves) and Californian (with narrow, 2 to 3-inch long leaves). The Turkish bay leaves have a more subtle flavor than do the California variety. Bay leaves are used to flavor soups, stews, vegetables and meats.
- They're generally removed before serving. Overuse of this herb can make a dish bitter. Fresh bay leaves are seldom available in markets. Dried bay leaves, which have a fraction of the flavor of fresh, can be found in supermarkets. Store dried bay leaves airtight in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.