It’s one of the most popular herbs in the world but how much do you know about basil? Here are all the basil facts you’ll ever need and more:
- A right royal word
This must be the king of the herbs. Both the words basilicum and basil come from the Greek word ‘basilikon’ which means ‘royal’.
- An herb of legends
Basil is the one herb that features in many a myth. It was the focus of John Keats’ Isabella character. When her beloved in killed, she takes his head and washes it in her tears. She then hides it in a pot filled with sweet basil which has now become a powerful symbol of love.
- Indian in origin
Basil is most commonly associated with Italian food but is originated from India more than 4,000 years ago. It journeyed along the famous spice route, from India and southeast Asia towards the Middle East and finally Europe.
- Don’t cut it
To the Ancient Greeks, basil was such a revered herb that is was unlawful to harvest it with anything made from silver or gold. This still stands today, with experts suggested basil is always torn and never cut. Metal oxidises the herb, making it blacken and lose flavour.
- The power to heal
It was believed that basil had magical powers of healing. It was used for embalming the dead in Ancient Egypt and administered to the sick in Africa to treat fever and deter mosquitos. It is called ‘the incomparable one’ by Hindus in India. Across the world, basil has been used for anything from wart treatments, horse aphrodisiacs and even to relieve flatulence.
- Not just a food
Not only is this an herb that goes perfectly with pasta and pizza, but it has also been used to treat sore throats, skin problems, headaches and coughs. It is naturally packed with calcium, copper, magnesium and Vitamins C, K and A. If this makes you hungry, enjoy Italian restaurants in Dublin. visit https://www.forno500.ie/ an Italian Restaurant in Dublin
- Many different types
There isn’t just one variety to try but more than 150. Each one has a unique colour, smell, flavour and leaf shape. Varieties include spicy Mexican, Thai and Lemon.
- Late to Britain
Basil didn’t arrive in Britain until the start of the 16th century. Initially, it was used for making perfume and medicine. People didn’t start eating it until towards the end of the 20th century.
- Holy Basil
It has been said that when Pope John Paul II officially visited Genoa in 1990, a local priest secretly placed olive oil and basil into the Holy Water which was about to be used for the city blessing.
- How to grow your own
For a healthy and flourishing basil plant at home, be sure to plant between January and April in a sheltered area that gets plenty of sunshine. Just before it flowers, pick the young leaves which will encourage growth. This will ensure it is full of flavour.