Basil

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Pot basil

Basil is most commonly recommended to be used fresh; in cooked recipes it is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour, and what little flavour remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavour, like hay.

Basil works exceedingly well with tomatoes. Tear a handful of basil leaves over some tomatoes with a splash of olive oil, a shake of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sea salt and you have a fabulous tomato salad that is hard to beat.

Growing your own basil in the UK

Basil requires a reasonably warm, Mediterranean type climate and does not grow as well in the UK as it does in it's natural environment. It does fairly well in a conservatory or greenhouse environment, though even there, it does not start to germinate until May in the UK. The slightest frost will kill it.

In the UK, if it's warm enough to eat an evening meal outside, then it's time to plant basil!

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