When we were kids, we called basil “hobbit” - it was our Lebanese term for this wonderful herb. Mom would save seeds from year to year so that eventually, the basil came to be an heirloom plant.
Basil is an annual herb and member of the mint family. Make sure the air and soil is at least 50 degrees before planting this sun loving herb. Try Genovese, sweet or Italian large leaf for in ground plantings. Green bouquet with its tiny leaves mounds up prettily in containers.
To harvest basil, pluck the largest leaves on the plant at first, and then start pinching off flower heads as they form (yes, they’re edible) for a longer harvest.
Basil contains iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and is anti-bacterial. It is helpful against staph and other infections.
Add basil the last 5 minutes of cooking time for an explosion of flavor.
Rita’s freezer pesto
I use my food processor, but you could use a blender or make this by hand.
1 to 1½ teaspoons garlic, minced
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted if desired
1/2 stick unsalted butter (optional but good)
½ cup parsley leaves
4 generous cups basil leaves, packed
1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese or to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
With processor’s motor running, add garlic and nuts. Add everything else and process until smooth. Freeze in containers.
Tips from Rita’s garden:
Natorp’s carries Amethyst, Genovese, Green Bouquet, Italian large leaf, sweet basil and Thai basil.