Ocimum, various species
July - September
With more varieties than most other herbs, basil types have been divided into five categories: regular (cinnamon or clove scented), anise scented, dwarf, lemon scented, and purple leaf. Sweet or Thai basil are the types most commonly found in the grocery store, but the farmers market will open your eyes to a whole new world of basil. Ask the farmer for recipe suggestions to best complement each unique variety.
Basil is best when fresh, so consider getting a plant to have at home. It does well in containers and even grows well in a window with full sun. Many northern climate dwellers like to get lighted herb gardens to grow basil on their countertop.
Here’s a harvesting secret: Don’t pull off the leaves. Choose how many leaves you want, then cut the stem off down to the intersection of two leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow twice as many new leaves.
Nutrition: Basil is very good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6.