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Basil

botanical name: Ocimum basilicum

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Basil Fine Alto
as from that 1.20 €
Basil Greco Compatto
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Basil Italiano Comune
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Basil Napoletano Bolloso
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Basil Toscano
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Basil Violetto
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Basil is an aromatic plant originating in India. Its scientific name is "Ocimum basilicum" and comes from the greek basilikon, or "royal plant". The cultivation of basil is very simple. Simply choose a fertile ground and don't give it too much water.

The convenient period to bury the seeds is between March and April, while if the cultivation takes place in the garden is better to wait for the month of May, when there are no more night frosts that may compromise germination, which usually takes place within 15 days. The plant prefers temperatures between 21 ° and 26 ° degrees, but it also easily fits in colder climates, provided that it is exposed in full sun. Flowering occurs from June until September. To obtain a more luxuriant and prolonged growth, we must trim the topmost leaves and eliminate the flowers. In fact, being an annual plant, once the flowers bear fruit, then produce seeds, it concludes its life cycle.

The watering frequency depends on the climate, it's important not to stagnate the water without let the soil become too dry.

Origins and history

About the etymology name there are some theories. Some people think that it comes from its use in the production of perfumes for the king; according to others it would be a name linked to its multiple properties. In fact, in ancient times it was appreciated for its flavor and for its beneficial properties.

It's an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family that can reach 60 cm in height. Its leaves, rich of essential oils, have an oval shape whose dimensions vary according to species. The color can be green or purplish, as in some varieties of South America. There are numerous types, many of which obtained by crossing between species.

The more common are the giant basil, a lettuce leaf bullous, the variety with crisp leaves and the variety with small and compact leaves.

Nutritional properties and benefits

It possesses many minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, valuable to counteract the free radicals' activity. Since ancient times basil is known for many therapeutic properties. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine it was considered a true elixir of life, and in fact the ailments that can cure are many. For example thanks to the magnesium, which promotes relaxation of muscles and blood vessels, is a good ally of the heart. The eugenol, the substance that gives it the characteristic aroma, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, aiding digestion and combating intestinal infections and halitosis. It can be used against flu, gastric spasms and nausea. It helps the headache, breathing the vapors after pouring a couple of spoons of dried leaves in boiling water. Essential oils are extracted by distillation: they have high anti-bacterial capabilities and are particularly effective for treating ear infections and throat.

Use of basil in the cooking

Basil is used in all the kitchens of the world, but curiously right in his home country it cultivated mainly as an ornamental plant, as it is considered the representation of the goddess Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu.

In Italy it is an ingredient used in many recipes, which are preparing sauces. Among these the most famous is the Genovese pesto, obtained by chopping the fresh leaves combined with garlic, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil. A variant is the Sicilian pesto, whose classic ingredients are added celery leaves, parsley, pepper and cherry tomatoes.

The basil should be used preferably fresh and added to dishes only after cooking. The leaves can be stored in various ways: dried, pickled in jars, or frozen in an airtight container.

Curiosity

The legends born around the basil are generally related to its therapeutic virtues.
In the classical world it was able to encourage the conception, why to it were also attributed aphrodisiac properties. Moreover it was considered an antidote to the bite of the basilisk, probably because of the similarity of names. In some oriental cultures it is thought that the flowering branches bring peace and family harmony and therefore are put in pots in the rooms. The only exception, in the island of Crete is used as a symbol of mourning.

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