Sweet Basil, or ocimum basilicum, is a great healing herb as well as a tasty herb used in kitchens all over the world. Often described as having a spicy, yet sweet, peppery and minty flavor and aroma, sweet basil is a great all around herb to have on hand.
We have all heard of Sweet Basil, but there may be a lot of information you have never heard about the many uses of sweet basil in the kitchen and the herbal medicine cabinet.
Sweet basil is a fairly easy to grow herb, that many organic herb gardeners just love to grow. With many varieties of basil on the market, it shouldn’t be too hard to find your favorite variety and begin growing this great medicinal herb, in the next growing season.
Growing Sweet Basil:
Sweet basil (ocimum basilicum) is an annual herb, that usually grows to between 1 and 2 feet tall, with small spiked-looking flowers that are usually white, pink or purple.
Experts say that sweet basil seeds may be planted directly in the soil, after all frost is over. The plants should be placed at about 1 foot apart and in direct sunlight, in order for them to flourish. To really make their sweet basil plants “bush-out” and produce more fine herbs, many growers of sweet basil will “pinch back” the newly grown flowers to induce extra growth.
Sweet basil leaves may be harvested throughout the growing season, by simply pinching them off the plant. Most expert herb gardeners will agree that you should only harvest the sweet basil leaves when they are dry. This just means you should wait until all the morning dew has evaporated to do your harvesting.
When growing basil, many gardeners agree that it makes a great companion-plant to tomatoes. This makes sense to me, after-all, tomatoes and basil do go great together in many dishes. Why not in the ground as-well? Many gardeners swear that their tomato plants grow bigger and healthier when grown next to sweet basil! Try it next spring and see for yourself.
Sweet basil also has pest-control properties. It seems to send many annoying garden pests running. Mosquitoes seem to particularly hate sweet basil, making one more great reason to grow it next year!
Drying Sweet Basil:
If you want to save some sweet basil for later use, simply hang-dry your basil in a cool, dry, dark place – and then seal it up in an air-tight jar or bag and tuck it away for another time.
Using Sweet Basil:
Sweet basil has many different uses, both in the kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Around the kitchen, sweet basil is often used in recipes and dishes that come from all over the world. From stews, soups, salads, sauces and dressings, many recipes have been perked up by adding a little sweet basil. Many Italian, Indian, and Asian dishes have sweet basil, or another variety, in them, and history shows that sweet basil has been grown and used as an herb for over 5,000 years!
If you have ever used “pesto”, the tasty Italian herb-oil sauce, then you know very well how great sweet basil can taste.
Medical uses for Sweet Basil:
Sweet basil has been said for quite some time, to help many medical ailments. It helps aid in digestion, relieves some stomach-aches, and headaches, and is said to increase mental alertness. Used also as an anti-spasmodic, sweet basil is loved by many herbal healing experts.
Other medical uses of sweet basil may include: wart treatment, anti-viral, fever reducer, cough suppressant, and possible treatment for both common colds and the flu.
Sweet basil also is used often in aromatherapy. By using the essential oils of the basil leaves and flowers, aromatherapist’s have been treating many ailments with “basil oil” for quite some time.
If you would like more information on aromatherapy uses for Basil Oil - Click Here for Organic Basil Oil from Star West Botanicals.
If you REALLY want to learn more about Sweet Basil and other Healing Herbs? Check out some of my recommended reading for herbal healing, and herb gardening. You will love making herb gardening and healing with herbs a part of your everyday life.