Basil, or Sweet Basil, is a common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum, of the family Lamiaceae (mints), sometimes known as Saint Joseph's Wort in some English-speaking countries.
Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. In general, it is
added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor.
The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the
refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being
blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of
its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different,
with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay.
Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto - a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other main ingredients are olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts. The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are "Genovese", "Purple Ruffles", "Mammoth", "Cinnamon", "Lemon", "Globe", and "African Blue". The Chinese also use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods.
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