Basil is one of the most beloved herbs for its aromatic fragrance, amazing yet subtle flavor, and beautiful glossy leaves. Basil, whether fresh or dried, enhances the flavor of many sweet and savory recipes.
1/4 cup fresh basil equals how much dried? The answer is 4 teaspoons or 1 1/3 tablespoon of dried basil. You will need three times the amount of fresh basil as you will need dried basil. The conversion of three to one is only a general rule because dried herbs lose flavor quickly, changing the ratios.
It is important to note that not all recipes requiring fresh basil will work with a dried substitute. For example, bruschetta and pesto recipes require fresh basil; substituting dried basil will not work in these recipes. Dried basil only works in recipes that call for the herb in small quantities.
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What are The Varieties of Basil?
Basil is an annual herb that is a member of the mint family. Several different leaf colors, including green, white, and purple, offer different fragrances and flavor profiles. The most common one is Sweet Basil. The leaves, flowers, and stems of basil are edible, but the leaves are the most used part for cooking. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, including:
- Sweet Basil: Sweet basil is very common in Italian recipes and features dark green leaves and a sweet-spicy flavor.
- Thai Sweet Basil: Thai Sweet basil features purple stems and has a strong and spicy flavor resembling anise. Thai Basil leaves are smaller and pointier than Sweet Basil, can take high heat, and is perfect for stir fry recipes.
- Holy Basil: Holy Basil, referred to as Hot Basil, features a spicy, hot clove, bitter taste and used in Thai cuisine. It is also used to relieve symptoms of the common cold.
- Lemon Basil: Lemon Basil features a powerful pop of lemon fragrance and flavor. Lemon Basil is growing in popularity as it adds a fresh, bright flavor to recipes.
- Purple Basil: Purple basil features larger bright purple leaves. It has a strong clove flavor, and it is not recommended to use in cooking because the leaves turn black when heated. Instead, use Purple Basil in fresh salads, pesto, and as garnishes.
How Do You Use Fresh Basil?
Fresh Basil can is useful in a variety of recipes for which dried basil is not suited. Fresh basil offers a crisp, refreshing flavor to dishes and beverages thanks to its moisture and essential oil content. Remove the leaves from the stem and either lightly tear, roll and cut into ribbons or finely chop. Discard stalks and stems because they contain compounds that will turn food black. Here are some popular ways to enjoy Fresh Basil:
- Pesto: Combine fresh Sweet Basil with garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, parm cheese to create a magnificent topping.
- Infused Oil: Take your favorite oil to the next flavor level by infusing it with fresh Sweet Basil leaves and use it as salad dressing, dipping sauce, and marinade.
- Frozen Desserts: Enhance ice cream and sorbet with ribbons of fresh basil.
- Beverages: Muddle fresh ribbons of basil and add them into a fruity drink for a delightful, eye-pleasing refresher.
How Do You Use Dried Basil?
Dried Basil is just a flavorful as its fresh counterpart and makes a wonderful ingredient for many recipes. Ironically dried basil does not have the same taste as fresh because the dehydrating process removes the mint flavor. Dried Basil is stronger than fresh basil, and you should wait until the end of the cooking time to add to a recipe. Dried should be added at the beginning to draw out the flavors. Dried basil should be kept in a cool, dry place and used within six months of opening. Some of the popular ways to enjoy dried basil are in various soups, stews, pasta, meat, poultry, fish, casseroles, hummus, etc.
Can You Freeze Fresh Basil?
Yes, if you have fresh basil remaining in your garden at the end of the season, you can freeze the leaves to enjoy basil throughout the year. Simply rinse the leaves, dry them on towels, Spread them on a cookie sheet, and put them in the freezer until frozen. Then transfer frozen Basil leaves to an airtight freezer bag or container and use them as needed. You can also blanch the leaves before freezing.
Is Basil Healthy?
Yes, Basil has been a part of holistic medicines for hundreds of years and is still used today by the medical profession. Basil has natural healthy essential oils known for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Basil will help relieve symptoms of the common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, acne, insect bites, anxiety, stress, among others.
Whether fresh, dried, or frozen, Basil is one of nature’s amazing herbs enjoyed for hundreds of years. Experiment with Basil and unleash the numerous ways the flavor and fragrance can enhance your favorite recipes.