Kitchen lovers, domesticcooks, and professional chefs. Do you sometimes wonder what their secret is to their UH-mazing dishes? Here’s one of the mysteries unfold! It’s BASIL and the way they use it!

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Selection Tips

Basil leaves are mainly used for cooking. Did you know that its color can range from purple, reddish, or greenish in color out of its more than 60 varieties? Each sort contains its own distinct flavor, which could include hints of thyme, cinnamon, clove, lemon, anise and jasmine.  Growing any kind of basil has one unique benefit for your home- it could repel mosquitoes and cockroaches.  A helpful tip: pick the leaves before the plant flowers and get the best flavors! Also, you can try pinching back the buds to prevent flowering thereby extending the leaves’ growth period.

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Storage Tricks

Growing your own basil plant year- round in indoor pots, near a sunny window is undoubtedly the best way to get this ingredient fresh! However, if such luxury is quite impossible, shop around the grocery department and look for vibrant, fresh green leaves with no sign of decay or dark spots. They should be placed inside a plastic bag, layered in damp paper towels, and kept refrigerated until four days.

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For basil with stalks, better put it in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag attached to the glass. As you store in your refrigerator, don’t forget to change the water daily and use within a week. Another thing, don’t wash the leaves yet not until you’re ready for the cook!

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Whole or chopped basils are good candidates for freezing too.  Blanch for two seconds, soak into ice water, pat dry and place in sealed bags into your freezer. Be sure not to thaw before using for an intensified flavor.  Or you can place fresh leaves in an ice-filled tray, covered with water and left for freezing.  Either way, do remember that frozen basil can only be used until 4 months.

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Cooking Hints 

  • Leaves are the major part but stems can be okay too. Just use the small ones, the bigger stalks can be bitter tasting.

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  • Unlike any other herbs, oregano compliments basil’s natural aroma and flavor. Summer savory, sage and rosemary belong to the same category.

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  • Prolonged heat dissipates basil’s volatile oils. So, better add basil at the end of the cooking process to preserve and even intensify the flavor!

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  • Ground basil with garlic and oil and you get a good ingredient for pistou!

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  • Basil does not work well with vinegar in the long term, better be aware.

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  • Dried basil is never an equal replacement for the fresh ones. The former can’t give basil’s full flavor. Yet if you don’t have any choice, use 1/3 amount of dried basil as substitute. Remember, one tablespoon of fresh ones is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of the dried type.

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The secret for an uh-mazing dish? Basil is definitely on that category. Simply remember these tips, and you’ll COOK just fine- or even better!

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