5 Variety Basil Seed Collection
Basil is truly the beginner’s herb as it is quick to germinate, fast to mature, and rewarding to harvest. Even if you’ve grown basil for decades, the 5 Variety Basil Seed Collection is the easiest way to explore more of the exotic and bold flavors that basil has to offer. While most home gardeners have likely ever grown savory Mediterranean Genovese-style, the Basil Seed Collection invites you to try some of the other sweet and spicy favorites.
1. Italian Large Basil
Italian Large Leaf Basil is a traditional Genovese-style Mediterranean basil and one of the most popular cultivars in the home garden. Italian Large Leaf boasts classic spicy and floral notes with hints of licorice, growing wide and bulbous leaves compared to thinner Lemon or Lime varieties. If growing basil for the first time, Italian Large Leaf is the basil for you as it is the choice variety in most dishes such as pesto, caprese, and bruschetta pairings. Genovese-style basil is smooth, wide, and has a classic dark green sheen, ideal for an outdoor herb gardening or indoor windowsills.
2. Lemon Basil
Lemon Basil is a slightly thinner and lighter colored plant when compared to Genovese-style but packs a shockingly bright and citrus kick. Simply pinch the leaf and smell for yourself or chew an entire piece, but the flavor is unmistakable as you’d swear you were eating real lemon zest. Lemon basil offers a sweet alternative to some of the more spicy and savory basil favorites such as Thai or Genovese varieties. Lemon basil is best paired with any seasonal summer delights such as iced tea, flavored water, and ice-cream dessert.
3. Thai Basil
Thai basil matures into a very similar plant to Lemon or Lime varieties and does not develop the fat and rounded leaves of more familiar Genovese basil plants. The Thai basil offers home growers one of the more exotic flavors in the kitchen as it is spicy, bold, and savory with notes similar to anise or licorice. Thai-style basil plants have all the same full sun and daily watering requirements as every other variety of basil while boasting zesty, full-bodied flavor. No basil collection would be complete without some type of spicy Thai to complement some of the sweeter varieties of basil.
4. Genovese Basil or Sweet Basil
Genovese basil is a sweet basil heirloom native to the Italian provinces of Genoa, Savona, and Imperia; while locals are decided that “true” Genovese hails from the Genoa district of Prá. Sweet basil is preferred in Italian cuisine because it lacks the “minty” notes as found in more aggressive cultivars, allowing for more bold, savory notes to highlight the dish. Many types of basil are cultivars of the Genovese for their traditional anise-like flavor and wide green leaves when compared to some Thai varieties of basil.
Sweet Basil is not as nuanced or complex as Genovese-style basil plants but beloved by chefs nonetheless. Similar to citrus cultivars, sweet basil has a surprisingly bright and uncharacteristic basil flavor always best when added to cool desserts and refreshing drinks. As a member of the always delicious mint family, sweet basil habits and flowers very similar to mint while also relying on full sun conditions to reach optimal flavor.
5. Dark Opal Basil or Mammoth Basil
Dark Opal Basil debuted as the 1962 All-America Selections Winner for its striking dark burgundy leaves, stems, and foliage. Dark opal basil produces slightly more pink flowers than traditional basil and is an ideal grow alongside of exotic favorites alternanthera and heuchera. Dark opal shares the same robust, spicy, and licorice notes of both Thai and Genovese-style basils. Dark colored varieties of basil such as Dark Opal must receive full sunlight to produce its true exotic colors.
Mammoth Basil is a lettuce leaf basil, has leaves that can stretch out as long as your hand. If you are a basil fan, this the Granddaddy of the basil family. Featuring large, dark green, luscious, leaves, a chefs dream herb. Mammoth basil has such an amazing aroma and is so versatile. Uses go way beyond pesto, try it in sandwiches, salads, dressings, marinades, on pizza, and don't forget soups! This basil will not disappoint. Direct sow after last frost in late May, or start indoors. Basil does well on a kitchen windowsill in a warm sunny location.