Basil is a key ingredient in many recipes, but the different varieties will have completely different flavours.
Which is why it’s very important to select the right type for the types of foods you would like to prepare.
Follow the links below for details, or read on for growing and cooking advice:
The 5 Top Basil Varieties
How to grow basil indoors
If you want to grow this herb you can use:
Taking them in turn:
Growin using pots with soil
This herb is ideally suited for planting outside in a pot on a balcony or terrace or inside on a sunny windowsill (or using lighting)
It loves warm very sunny conditions and hates cold draughts. If you want to grow it in soil then:
- Sow thinly into soil at a depth of 6mm
- Will germinate in 12 to 40 days
- Thin the seedlings or transplant leaving 38 cm between plants
How to grow using Hydroponics or Aquaponics
This is one of the most popular herbs to grow using hydroponics – as it will be ready to be harvested quicker than planted in soil.
But in addition it is ideal for aquaponics – especially because it loves nitrogen. In addition, whether using hydroponics or aquaponics you will be able to grow it all year around – providing you with fresh herbs when you want it.
Which Type & Why
There are many, many different types. But the key ones to consider are:
- Sweet or Genovese basil,
- Cinnamon basil
- Thai basil
- Lemon basil
- Tulasi or Holy Basil
Taking them in turn:
Sweet or Genovese
Cooking Mediterranean or European Dishes ? For example Italian, French or Greek.
If you buy this herb in a shop in the UK then you will most likely get either sweet or genovese basil. However, even these 2 European varieties are different. Where the sweet one has a flavor tasting a bit like a blend of licorice and cloves with a hint of mint. Whereas the Genovese one has a stronger flavour preferred by chefs – a bit like a combination of aniseed and cloves.
So if your recipes require a subtle flavour grow sweet variety at home. On the other hand if you prefer a stronger flavour (ideal for either Italian or dishes containing tomatoes) grow the genovese one at home.
Cinnamon or Mexican Basil
Cooking Central American Dishes? -For example Mexican or South American
The cinnamon option has a spicy, fragrant aroma and flavor. It can be used not only in pastas & salads but also in cookies, pies and even ice cream.
Cooking Asian Dishes ? For example Thai, Laos or Vietnamese…
Then the Thai one has to be a must – in addition it is ideal to grow indoors, because as a tropical plant it needs warm temperatures and is not frost resistant.
The reason it’s so good for asian dishes is that it has the same flavours as standard option but in addition has a strong licorice and anise flavour that gives foods like curries and soups a unique aroma.
Cooking South Asian or North East African Dishes ? For example Indonesian, Philippine or Arabic…
Then the unique flavour of lemon is a must. In addition a key benefit is that it can be used in many different ways – for example eaten raw with a salad, used to season many cooked dishes or even used in sweet desserts.
- Indonesian Eggs with Spicy Sauce (Telur Bumbu Kemangi)
- Manipuri Lemon Fritters (See video below)
- Nam Ya Pork Curry with Khanom Chin
Tulasi or Holy Basil
Cooking spicy Thai dishes?
Then you should grow Red Holy Basil. Although sometimes confused with Thai Basil (see above) this variety is completely different and has such a peppery flavour that it is often referred to as ‘hot basil’.
Please note that white holy basil is again slightly different, and often used for seafood dishes.
How to prepare
Whether you are using Sweet or Genovese variety, or any of the other varieties.
Preparation of all the varieties will be similar, with the video showing how to get the maximum flavour results.
How to start
Hopefully our guide has helped.