Basil and Growing Herbs
By: Kaitlyn (Farm Manager)
Herbs are typically easy to grow, and when used fresh, can add tons of extra flavor to meals, tea and cocktails. True Leaf Market created a guide on how to grow 40 different popular herbs, and it can be found here: Herb Growing Guide. All you need is a pot of soil, some seeds, and a sunny spot!
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the herbs that FoodChain produces the most of. It thrives in our aquaponic system! Basil is native to tropical areas of Asia and Africa, and it is part of the mint family. There are many different varieties of basil that have slightly different flavor profiles, and while most are green there are some varieties that have purple leaves! The plants on our aquaponics farm are all green, but they are growing under specialized LED grow lights that make them appear slightly purple. This herb is well known for its use in pesto and Italian foods, but it can be used in a variety of other dishes. Keep an eye out for recipes using fresh basil from FoodChain’s kitchen!
Basil is also known to be used for other purposes besides just an ingredient in your favorite dish. Basil essential oil has been used for a variety of different ailments, including acne treatment, aromatherapy to treat fatigue and exhaustion, and to treat headaches, the common cold, stomach discomfort, and even snake and insect bites. There is also some belief that basil extract can lower blood pressure. However, there is no clinical evidence to back up these medicinal uses of basil.
Basil is very low in both calories and carbohydrates, with a single serving of basil having only about 2 calories. It isn’t a powerhouse for vitamins and minerals, but with a serving of basil you will still get a good dose of vitamin A and vitamin K, and also some folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Fresh basil can be stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for several days, but the best way to store basil if you have a whole stem with leaves on it is to put it in a glass of water on your counter. Basil can also be dried for later use.
Basil is unique in that it can be cloned. A cutting can be taken from a mature plant, and when placed in a jar of water it will start to grow roots and create a whole new basil plant! Basil does very well growing in water, such as in our aquaponic system, or in soil. Watch our video Grow Your Own Basil to learn more about how to start a basil cutting!