We had great fun at the Annual Inn to Inn Herb Tour this past weekend. The herb we featured was basil, and guests enjoyed it in Lemon Basil Coffee Cake and our savory egg entree with sweet basil at breakfast, and in some wonderful homemade lemonade flavored with lemon basil and Basil Pignoli Bites with Pesto for afternoon refreshments.
We learned a lot of fun facts about basil. In Greek, it means “royal,”, in India, it is a symbol of hospitality, and in Italy, a symbol of love. What a perfect combination of meanings ~ part of the inn’s hospitality is to prepare your food with love!
Sweet basil typically is used in Italian food: the most common Mediterranean cultivars are “Genovese”, “Purple Ruffles”, “Mammoth”, “Cinnamon”, “Lemon”, “Globe”, and “African Blue”. The round, often pointed leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Basil is an annual easily grown from seed, and is not frost tolerant at all, so don’t plant it too early when cold weather may be possible. It needs full sun, and more moisture than some herbs, so keep it watered; especially in pots. As colder weather approaches, you can bring basil inside as a window herb if you plant the seeds in the late summer in pots and set them in a bright sunny window. Be sure to pinch the tops of your plants so they won’t flower – flowering will stop their growth. Harvest just before you start your recipe for maximum flavor.
There’s still time to grow some basil in your own garden or herb pot this summer, and enjoy it fresh in the Inn at Ellis River’s Savory Crepes Caprese.