Among the most popular spicy plants, which we often talk about, is the beloved by many basil. True, its very spicy and somewhat harsh aroma may not be to everyone's taste. But the healing properties of this plant compensate for all this in full.
Basil spread throughout Europe, arriving there from South Asia around the 12th century, and immediately became known not only as a spice, but, last but not least, as a medicinal plant. By the way, in Central Asia, for example, in Uzbekistan, it is known under the name "raikhon", and in the south of Russia and in Armenia it is called "regan".
Like other herbs, this annual plant up to 50 cm in height contains essential oil in the aerial part, which gives it a specific aroma and taste. Most of the essential oil (up to 1%) is in the leaves and flowers.
Since, as we have already said, basil is a strong-smelling gingerbread plant, it is added as a spice in very small quantities.
Benefits of basil
A fresh plant contains a lot of vitamin C and carotene - 250–350 mg and 2–9 mg per 100 g of fresh mass, respectively.
In cooking, basil is used by adding fresh or dry leaves and stems as a seasoning to salads, soups, gravies, cheeses, meat and fish dishes, sauces and marinades; it is used to flavor canned vegetables, pickles and sausages. Interestingly, powdered basil leaves mixed with rosemary can replace pepper.
- Green basil pesto with pine nuts and garlic
- Basil and goat cheese pie
- Vegetable soup with pesto sauce "Piquant"
- Tomato chicken soup with beans, basil and spinach
- Fried fish with spiced oil and celery sauté
- Brussels sprouts with herbal sauce
- Spicy pie with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese
- Fish pizza with olives, basil and oregano
- Creamy artichoke and basil soup
- Warm quinoa salad with vegetables and spices
Basil medicinal properties
For medicinal purposes, basil is used as an anti-febrile, diuretic and disinfectant. Water extracts from the plant work well in the treatment of gastritis, colic and food poisoning. Decoctions are prepared from the leaves, bringing relief from headaches. Basil leaves are also good for aromatizing baths, rinsing, compresses, healing wounds, and treating eczema.
Read also the article Basil in medicine and cooking.
Basil is demanding on heat, its seeds germinate at temperatures not lower than + 12 ... + 15 ° С. But, despite the fact that the plant is thermophilic, it can be successfully grown in cooler regions using the seedling method. Basil grown through seedlings gives seeds of normal germination.
The soil... For basil, fertile, drained soils should be taken away; loamy soils are preferable in terms of texture. The best predecessors are all vegetable crops for which organic fertilizers were applied.
The soil must be carefully cultivated and the surface leveled. It is especially important that there are no weeds on the site, because the plants develop very slowly at first. And if the garden is full of weeds, they will simply drown out the basil, reducing the yield and its quality.
Fertilizers... When growing basil, add under it: 20 g of ammonium sulfate or 10 g of urea, 30–40 g of superphosphate and 20 g of potassium nitrate per 1 sq. m. But if the soil is not very fertile, not well fertilized, then you need to additionally add organic fertilizers (0.5-1 bucket per 1 sq. m.).
Sowing seedlings... Basil is sown in early April in boxes placed in a heated room - a greenhouse, a warm greenhouse or a heated room. Seeds are sown in rows at a distance of 5–6 cm, row from row. From above, they are covered with a well-sifted soil mixture with a layer of 0.5 cm. 1 g of seeds are sown in a sowing box (60x30x8 cm).After the emergence of seedlings, the seedlings must be thinned out, leaving a distance of 2-3 cm in a row, or cut out in a sunny greenhouse (5x5 cm). 50–60 days after sowing, when 5–6 leaves are formed in the seedlings, it is ready for planting.
Transplanting... Seedlings are planted in the garden when the last frost has passed. Basil is planted in an ordinary way with a row spacing of 50 cm, in a row between plants 20-30 cm. Basil transplant easily, takes root well and quickly.
Harvesting greens... Harvesting is possible already during the flowering period of the basil. At this time, it accumulates the most green mass and contains the maximum of essential oil.
In order not to lose greens, basil leaves and essential oil, plants must be harvested in a short time. This is best done in dry weather, cutting plants at the foliage level. From 1 sq. m, on average, you can get 1–1.5 kg of fresh plants, about 0.2 kg in dry form.
The mowed green mass should be used immediately for canning or dried.
Drying basil... To dry, the plants are laid in a thin layer so that they do not get steamed, otherwise the basil will immediately lose its color, taste, and aroma. Drying temperature should not exceed + 35 ° С, so that essential oils do not volatilize.
When properly dried, basil retains its natural color (light green, dark green, purple in various shades). The dried stems should break well, that is, be brittle, and the leaves and flowers should be easy to grind into powder.
Double harvest of greenery... If you use the seedling method of growing basil, you can get a crop of green mass from two slices. To do this, after the first cut, it is necessary to additionally feed the plants with mineral fertilizers, weed and loosen the aisles.
"Ural gardener", No. 42, 2018