Love Your Basil: Thai Basil

| 8/20/2010 11:46:42 AM

R.WerstRamona Werst has a love for growing and cooking with basil. Currently, she mas more than 30 varieties in her collection, and she is adding to it all the time. She creates basil-infused and would love to teach you how to Love Your Basil! Visit her blog ( to download her free e-book, Love Your Basil.

There are hundreds of different basil varieties. I have come to love the common Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet' as well as the exotic and incredibly useful Ocimum basilicum 'Lang', which is only grown in the Lang area of Vietnam. Most basils can be used in the kitchen, medicinally, as a pest repellent and as your garden's plant companions. Other basils are known for their beautiful flowers and their multi-colored leaves. In the late summer, Ocimum basilicum 'Thai' bares beautiful red or deep purple blooms.

Photo by bourgeoisbee/Courtesy Flickr 

'Thai' is one basil that is a little fussy to grow. It doesn’t like to be too wet and it will wilt quickly if it gets too dry. When it's planted from seed it takes approximately 5 to 7 days to sprout, depending on how warm the soil is. It can be started indoors and transplanted into gardens or into container pots. When I harvest mine, I wash it, pinch the leaves from the stems, chop it, place it in labeled zip lock bags and freeze. Anytime I want to use fresh 'Thai', all I have to do is reach into my freezer to cook with it any time of the year.

Photo by David Werst

Here in Real Texas, we like our food just a little spicy; 'Thai' adds a little kick when you cook with it. 'Thai', which is also used in Asian cooking, is an herb of many names, depending on which culture is using it. There is 'Siam Thai', 'Queen of Sheba Thai', 'Red Stem Thai', and the list goes on. It has a licorice flavor and is actually used more by the Vietnamese and in India with their Curry dishes, than in Thai cuisine.