A member of the mint family, basil is one of the earliest known herbs and has been cultivated for over 5000 years. With over 60 different varieties, it is one of the most used herbs in cooking around the world. Basil originated in India and Thailand where it was also used medicinally as well as for cooking.
Throughout history Basil was thought to almost have magical powers and was used in many different ways by many different cultures. Here a few we thought were interesting.
• Early romans thought it caused insanity
• European lovers exchanged sprigs of basil as a symbol of faithfulness it was also placed in hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey
• Jewish folklore suggest it adds strength while fasting
• It was used for an antidote for snake bites
• In Medieval Times some believed that basil was for good and helped to cheer the spirit and clearing of the brain where as others thought basil was poisonous
• Ancient Egyptians used basil in mummies during the embalming process
• Ancient Greeks believed that to have a successful basil crop you had to shout and swear at the seeds while planting
Basil is full of iron, vitamin K and beta carotene and is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant agents. It has been used medicinally as a remedy for common health issues. Here are few of the many maladies it is said to help.
• the common cold – anxiety and depression
• gas, nausea and indigestion – memory loss
• headaches – managing arthritis
• improved brain function and memory – fights bacterial infections
When planted it does best in a well-drained, full sun spot, it is sensitive to cold so be sure to plant after the risk of frost is over, it likes rich moist soil but will grow practically anywhere. It is said to enhance the growth of tomatoes and peppers and protect them from insects.
Don’t forget to shout and swear at your seeds when you are planting them
Recipes using Basil
It can be used in Italian recipes, tomato sauces, on pizza, chicken or fish. It also freezes well.
– 2 cups of packed fresh basil – 2/3 cup olive oil
– 1 clove of garlic – dash of salt
– ¼ cup pine nuts – ½ cup parmesan cheese
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
This recipe is from a recipe book called “Barefoot in the Kitchen” that was put together by the Windermere Women’s Institute and can be purchased at both our locations for $20.00