Basil - Defined

Basil—The name of a favorite herb used in seasoning turtle soup. Cloves resemble it in taste and flavor, and since the herb is as a rule hard to procure, even in the large cities, the clove does duty for it in a very creditable manner.

One of the Standard “pot herbs;“ it is thought to be specially suitable for turtle soup; can be grown in any kitchen garden like thyme, marjoram, etc., and can be bought, dried and powdered, in cans.

An aromatic culinary herb, allied to thyme. It is included in the “sweet” as well as “ savory ” herbs, on account of its pleasant aromatic smell and taste.

Basil.—Thought to have come originally from the East and much valued for its sweet perfume. It derives its name from a Greek word designating “ royal,” and points to the probability of its high esteem by the ancients who named it, to signify its worthiness to be used by kings. It is said to have entered into the perfumed baths and ointments so much appreciated in ancient days.


Sweet basil is the one among the strong clan of basils which is used in cooking. The royal basil, the overwhelming, glorious one, is a wonderfully decorative plant.

Its aroma is pompous and its leaves are used most effectively as a finishing touch to green salad. But it is the green curly-leaved sweet basil which has the rich herb quality.

This makes basil a wonderful standby to enliven the more insipid-tasting vegetables.

It is decidedly a valuable part of one of the groups which are designated as salad herbs; individually it is used in basil butter for sandwiches, is delicious with egg dishes and added to broiled tomatoes and onions. It is as stimulating as a fine liqueur.

Basil. It was sometimes used for reducing. An old belief was that at meal time women would not eat anything from dishes under which basil had been put without their knowing it.

Basil is symbolic of love in Italy, of hatred in Greece. It has been thought by some writers that basil came to mean hatred from the old custom in painting to represent poverty by a seated figure of a woman in rags with a plant of basil near by.

Basil is considered one of the finest spices for use in pickling. It is of two types—sweet green basil and the dwarf form. Basil is an annual and the seeds may be planted in the open ground where the plants are to remain. A very few plants are sufficient for the needs of the average family. Sometimes one or two plants of basil may be grown in the flower border.

The leaves and flowers have a clove-like, spicy flavor and are prized for use in spiced vinegar, for pickles, in gravies, for soups, stews, salads, and meats and fish cookery. Basil is an especially choice flavor for tomato dishes.

Sweet green basil, too, is just the right herb for flavoring turtle soup; seacoast towns should take notice.

When dried and powdered, basil is used for spicing meat or other fish, sausage, liver paste and similar products. The flowers with the tender tips of the stems wfith their foliage are cut, tied in very small bunches and dried.

Uses.—Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the French cuisine. It is especially relished in mock turtle soup, which, when correctly made, derives its peculiar taste chiefly from the clove-like flavor of basil.

In other highly seasoned dishes, such as stews and dressings, basil is also highly prized. It is less used in salads. A golden yellow essential oil, which reddens with age, is extracted from the leaves for uses in perfumery more than in the kitchen.

The original and famous Fetter Lane sausages, formerly popular with Cockney epicures, owed their reputation mainly to basil. During the reigns of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth farmers grew basil in pots and presented them with compliments to their landladies when these paid their visits.

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