If you are looking for herbs that can be easily grown in the garden, even if you do not have a green thumb, basil should be on the top of your list. The growing requirements are minimal, increasing the chances of success. Among the different varieties of basil, however, which one should you choose? One of the most popular is red basil.
Red basil is a variety that is stronger compared to a normal basil. It is packed with health benefits, aside from its distinct flavor and aroma. You can use it not only in the kitchen, but for other applications as well. In the rest of this post, we will also discuss some of the other varieties of basil, as well as the applications of red basil, including how they can be good for your health. If you plan to plant red basil in the garden, keep on reading and we will also provide you with practical tips on how you can grow it.
What is Red Basil?
Also known as rubin basil, its scientific name is Ocimum Basilicum. It belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, which is the family of mint. It comes from the group of purple basil, specifically from Dark Opal. Unlike most of its counterparts, it is relatively new as it was developed only in 1992 in Denmark. Dark Opal basil, meanwhile, was developed in 1950 in the University of Connecticut. The larger category, which is opal basil, first appeared in 1830 when it was discovered by George Bentham.
Red Basil was introduced after winning the All America Selections in 1992. The latter is an organization that is committed to the promotion and introduction of new varieties of seeds and plants. Plant breeders submit their entries and they are judged by a panel. When red basil won, it signaled the start of its popularity in the world of decorative culinary herbs.
An annual herb, red rubin basil normally grows at a height of three feet. Its leaves, meanwhile, usually has a length of three inches. Aside from having a stronger flavor and aroma, another thing that differentiates it from normal basil is the purplish color of the leaves. Because of its appearance, it is often added in salads to make it look appetizing and to add a hint of color.
Popular Types of Basil
Red rubin basil is already a specific category and there are no other types that fall under it. To educate you further, in this section, we will have a look at the other types of basil that are available:
Red Basil and Its Benefits for the Health
Like the other varieties of basil, it can deliver a wide array of health benefits, which will include the following:
- It Contains Antioxidants: Red basil is an herb that is known for its high concentration of antioxidants. With this, it will be effective in fighting damages that can be caused by free radicals. It increases the defense of cells in the body. Especially when used in the form of essential oils, it can combat the most common signs of skin aging.
- It is Anti-Inflammatory: The essential oils that are found in red basil can also be helpful in combating inflammation. Linalool, citronellol, and eugenol are essential oils that can help in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Their effects are believed to be comparable to what you can expect from ibuprofen and aspirin.
- It is Anti-Bacterial: Several studies in the past have also proven the ability of red basil to deter bacterial growth. To be specific, it can be effective in restricting the presence of E. coli, listeria, and staphylococcus. This will be excellent in preventing infections from spreading in the body.
- It is a Natural Adaptogen: Are you often stressed? Red basil can be your savior. There are also researches previously conducted noting that red basil can function as a natural adaptogen to inhibit the presence of stressors.
- It Fights Cancer: With the continuous research on how to combat cancer, red basil can prove to be promising. It has a notable concentration of phytochemicals, which can be specifically good for minimizing the risks of lung, oral, skin, and liver cancer, among others.
- It Regulates Blood Sugar: Diabetics can also benefit from red basil. It has extracts that can be effective in lowering your glycemic index, and hence, making sure that your blood sugar levels will be always in check.
- It is Good for the Heart: This is another herb that will be effective in promoting your cardiovascular health. It will be critical in regulating your blood pressure, as well as in the reduction of the inflammation of the heart.
Cooking with Red Basil and Other Applications
Anyone who is serious in cooking will probably have a red basil in the herb garden. It can be used not only for culinary applications, but also for other purposes.
- Pesto: Among others, red basil is a popular ingredient in pesto sauces. However, you should observe caution when using this herb. If you use too much, you will end up with flavor that is too strong for most people to tolerate. If you use too little, on the other hand, your pesto will have an undesirable bitter aftertaste.
- Salad: As it has been earlier mentioned, the color of red basil makes it distinct compared to other varieties. With this, it will be an excellent choice for a salad garnish. Make sure to place it on the top so that its appearance will be appreciated. It will make a plate of salad more colorful and appetizing.
- Cocktails: If you love experimenting with liquors, red basil will give a unique twist to the usual cocktails. For instance, red basil leaves can be shaken with vodka, peppercorns, lemon juice, and sugar syrup. This drink is known as the Red Basil Smash. Gin can also be substituted if you prefer it over vodka.
- Iced Tea: If you do not want alcoholic drinks, red basil will also be an excellent addition for a refreshing summer drink. You can combine it with lemon and ginger for optimal flavor. Be sure to use sparingly so that the flavor will not be overpowering.
- Soups: Especially when the weather is cold, sipping a bowl of hot soup will be a good idea. You can use red basil in a spinach minestrone soup. Like in its other culinary uses, make sure to add only the right amount of red basil.
Planting Red Basil in the Garden
Do not be intimidated with the thought of growing red basil. It may seem difficult, but the truth is, it will be easy, even without prior knowledge to gardening. In the rest of this section, you will know some of the most important things that can provide a guarantee that such herb will survive in your garden.
The Best Way to Grow Red Basil
If you are looking for the best way to plant this herb, you should do so through its seeds. Proper selection of seeds will be the starting point. Do not just sprinkle the seeds on the top of the soil. Rather, begin with sowing at a depth of at least .3 centimeters. Also, see to it that there will be a space of at least half an inch. The best time to start planting is just before the last frost. It will take roughly 10 days to two weeks before the seeds will start propagating.
Choosing the Best Position
To ensure a healthy growth of the plant, you should also choose the right position. It is best to grow it indoors in an area that receives full sun. It would be best if the soil temperature is on an average of 10 degrees Celsius, which is roughly 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Alternatively, you can also grow red basil indoors, but this can be more complicated. You need to find a way to mimic the outdoor environment. Standard fluorescent lamps can be used to provide the heat and light that will be needed by the plant to grow. An oscillating fan will also help.
Basic Care of Red Basil
Minimal effort will be required when it comes to care and maintenance of red basil. However, this does not mean that you can just leave it in the garden and expect it to grow in full bloom. One of the most important is to water it regularly, but not too much. Lightly watering from the top is recommended. See to it that the soil will be wet, but it should never be soaked. This is especially critical during the summer months.
Red basil can also be prone to pest infestation, specifically aphids, thrips, and whiteflies, among others. You can consider adding coffee grounds or crushed egg shells to deter the presence of pests. Also, remove any part of the tree that seems to be damaged before the problem will spread to the healthy portions of the plant.
Pruning is also necessary, especially when the plant has reached its full growth, especially if they seem to be too crowded. Make sure that there is enough room for each plant to grow. It is recommended that you prune it at least once every three weeks. Early morning is the best time to prune. Simply pinch the edge with your hand or clean shears. You should not remove too much part of the foliage.
Harvesting Red Basil
The best time to harvest is before the appearance of the flower. After this, the leaves will have a bitter taste, which is far from its original flavor. It is also best to harvest early in the morning. This is the time wherein the oils are at their peak. Use your hand or scissors to take out the amount that you need. To ensure continuous growth, do not harvest more than 50% of its foliage.
Once you are done harvesting, you can keep red basil leaves as desired. If you want it to last longer, freezing is a good option. For most people, on the other hand, they opt to have it dried. Dry it under the heat of the sun and keep it in a container with tight seal. Use the dried leaves as soon as possible to avoid it from going bland.
In sum, red basil is another essential addition to your herb garden. Given its culinary applications and health benefits, similar to other basil varieties, you can use it in more ways than one. The best thing is that growing the plant does not require too much of an effort on your end. Even beginners in gardening can definitely yield a high level of success with this herb.