Region of Origin

Commodity:

Basil

Description & Origin

Basil is a leafy herb in same plant family as many other culinary herbs, including mint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage. It is grown primarily for its broad, tender, oval leaves that can range from green to purple in color. The aroma and flavor of basil is a combination of sweet, pungent, and spicy anise. The color and flavor balance vary by variety.

Basil is native to tropical ...

Health Benefits & Nutrition

Basil is a good source of Vitamin K and manganese. It has high phenolic content and antioxidant activity, although activity levels vary between cultivars. Basil has a long history of use in traditional medicine to address headaches, coughs, digestive issues, and more. In various cultures it has also been used as a talisman to ward off insects and evil spirits, or usher one into the next life.

Our Varieties

Basil Thai

AKA: Bai Horapa (Thailand), Rau Húng Quế (Vietnam)

Description

Thai basil has deep green leaves and a characteristic purple stem. Its aroma is distinctly spicy and fragrant, and its flavor is fresh and licorice-like.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Thai basil stands up better to heat than sweet basil and can be added at the last moment to hot soups, curries, and noodle dishes without losing its wonderful flavor.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
COL/MEX
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
USA (HI)
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good

Basil Red

AKA: Red Sweet Basil, Purple Basil, Opal Basil

Description

Red basil is a variety of opal basil developed for commercial production. It has completely reddish-purple leaves with consistent, uniform, deep color. Its aroma and flavor are similar to, but stronger than, that of standard sweet basil. It has a distinct savory character.

Variety Tips & Tricks

The vibrant color of red basil makes it excellent for salad and garnish where a punchy basil flavor is desired. Red basil is typically not cooked.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
ISR/PAL
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good

Basil Sweet

AKA: Italian Basil, Green Basil, Standard Basil

Description

Sweet basil is the variety most commonly found in Europe, the Mediterranean, and North America. These cultivars have large, broad, vivid green leaves that are exceptionally tender. They have a strong anise aroma, but they are also distinctly sweet. Sweet basil is most often sold on cut stems, but is occasionally also offered with the root intact.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Sweet basil is the preferred basil variety for pesto. The tender leaves make for creamy sauces, and allow for the incorporation of the whole raw leaf into dishes. Sweet basil will not hold up well to cooking, as heat can compromise much of its flavor.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
VARIOUS
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
USA (NJ)
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

Foodservice Tips

Traditional Culinary Uses

Basil is most commonly used as a fresh culinary herb, although it is also sometimes dried and used as a spice. Tender and leafy, fresh basil is often added at the end of cooking to preserve the fresh, pungent flavor and vivid color of the herb. In Italian and other European cuisines, varieties of sweet basil may be added to pastas or sauces or used in fresh salads. Dried basil is often used in meat products such as sausage, soups, or rich tomato-based sauces.

In Southeast Asia, fresh basil is typically used as a garnish or condiment on soup and noodle dishes like Vietnamese pho. Certain varieties such as holy basil may be added at the last moment to stir-fries, such as in the Thai dish pad kra pao. In India, holy basil is revered for its restorative powers and is often dried to make teas.

Flavor Pairings

Tomato, Eggplant, Summer Squash, Corn, Strawberries, Avocado, Garlic, Onion, Shallot, Lemongrass, Coconut, Bean Sprouts, Lime, Fresh Cheeses, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Pasta, Chicken, Pork

How to Prepare

Fresh basil can be used as a whole leaf or cut. The woody stem is not consumed, but the ribs of the leaves are tender and do not need to be removed. The basil leaf is very delicate, so in order to avoid bruising the leaf while cutting it is best to stack several leaves, roll them into a log, and slice gently into strips with a very sharp knife.

How to Store in the Kitchen

DO NOT store basil in the refrigerator. It does not like cold temperatures and will decay. For best results store basil upright in a jar with some water at the bottom, cover loosely with a plastic bag, and place in a room temperature area out of the sun. Once de-stemmed, basil should be used ASAP.

 

Fight Food Waste Tips for root to stem cooking

Before extra fresh basil goes bad, hang it upside-down on the stem to dry for use as a spice.

Warehouse Storage & Handling

Maintain these conditions for optimal short-term storage shelf life.*

IDEAL STORAGE TEMP:

50-68°F

TEMP STORAGE ZONE:

55-60°F (Warm Storage)

SUBJECT TO CHILLING INJURY:

Yes – Basil leaves will quickly brown and loose their shine when exposed to temperatures below 50°F, eventually leading to leaf abscission and decay. This can happen in as little as 1-2 days.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY:

95%

PRODUCES ETHYLENE:

Yes-Low

SENSITIVE TO ETHYLENE:

Yes-Low

ETHYLENE RECOMMENDATIONS:

While basil does not react strongly to ethylene, excessive exposure can contribute to leaf abscission.

Quality Assessment

Basil should appear fresh and free of defects including brown, black or yellow leaves; insect damage; excessive leaf abscission; or wilting. Leaves should be fragrant.

Important Handling Notes

DO NOT allow basil to be exposed to temperatures below 50°F at any time during storage or transportation, as this can cause severe chilling injury. Excessive heat can also cause decay that will spread rapidly and should be avoided. Fresh basil is very tender and can be easily damaged by rough handing causing bruising and decay. Handle gently.

Optimum Shelf Life

Depending on variety, growing conditions, and post-harvest handling, basil may last 1-2 weeks.

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