Difference between basil and sweet basil

What is the difference between ‘Nufar’ & ‘Genovese’ Basil?

One of the main questions customers ask in regards to Basil is “What is the difference between the Nufar Basil and the Genovese Basil? Genovese (left) | Nufar (right)

Genovese Basil is also known as Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’. This variety is grown for its delicious flavor and aroma and used primarily in Italy for pesto. Many refer to this variety as “Sweet” or “Common” basil. Genovese basil has a shiny leaf that curls under as the plant gets bigger. This variety will grow about 2 feet tall and should be pinched regularly to encourage a bushier plant and discourage seed heads forming. This plant will allow for a bountiful harvest that will leave you completely satisfied. The leaves have a lovely anise scent and taste sweet, yet slightly peppery. Perfect for any herb garden and indispensable in the kitchen….Genovese Basil will not disappoint!

Genovese basil is a great variety, but so is Nufar!

Nufar Basil is another type of sweet basil. Ocimum basilicum ‘Nufar F1 Hybrid’. This variety boasts large, flavorful leaves and is resistant to fusarium wilt The flavor is very similar to that of Genovese – a slightly anise/licorice flavor, peppery, yet minty too. How can you go wrong with this type of basil! The leaves are massive and with proper pinching the plant will yield more than you will know what to do with.The height of this plant is also similar to the Genovese, about 2 feet tall. Because of its large leaves and great flavor, Nufar is also perfect for a Perfect Pesto! So the main difference between the two is more disease resistance in Nufar, but slightly different flavor.

No herb garden is complete without Basil! Whether you choose Genovese, Nufar or one of the many other varieties of Basil available, there is nothing like this summer herb! Known as ‘King of the herbs’ for a reason, Basil’s extraordinary taste is a must, and has been in kitchens for centuries!

Enjoy your Basil this summer!

If you’ve ever eaten Italian food — in other words, if you are human — you know all about Italian sweet basil. Those beautiful, floppy green leaves are a key ingredient in Italian cuisine and the distinctive, main ingredient in Genovese-style pesto, without which there would be no reason for living.

Sweet Italian basil is the prime ingredient in classic Genovese pesto. (Thinkstock)

But Italian sweet basil is just one of more than 100 basil varieties. The second most likely variety to pop up in recipes — or menu descriptions — is Thai basil. And the two are actually quite different.

Thai basil has purple stems, and its leaves are narrower and perkier than its Italian cousin. Bury your nose in a bunch of Thai basil and you’ll smell anise, not pesto. Flavorwise, it’s spicier and bolder, too.

If Italian basil is all you have, go ahead and use it in Southeast Asian dishes, perhaps supplementing it with some fresh mint. But Thai basil adds something so special, it’s worth seeking out at well-stocked grocers and specialty markets — or planting in your backyard this spring.

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Basil has long been used in cooking and for better health. Being among the most popular of herbs, basil is used in Italian foods, salad dressings, and drinks, as well as medicines such as cough syrups and other natural elixirs.

With over 160 varieties, basil offers a surprising assortment of flavors.

Basil has over 160 different cultivars or types, with flavors ranging from bold and spicy to mild and sweet, each with the ability to grant a given dish its own distinctive signature.

Pesto, with origins dating back to the Romans, has become a household favorite, and one of the most common dishes prepared with basil as a main ingredient today.

Choosing which type of basil to use is always up to individual tastes, but there are certain varieties that give pesto a traditional flavor, as well as other types that will serve to give a homemade pesto a taste that’s unique to the person preparing it.

You can use Foodal’s basic pesto recipe as a basis to develop your own original flavor profile.

Our Favorite Six Basil Varieties include:

  1. Italian Large Leaf
  2. Sweet
  3. Thai
  4. Red Rubin
  5. Lemon
  6. Cinnamon

1. Italian Large Leaf

Italian Large Leaf Basil is the most commonly used in pesto. This variety offers a strong flavor for a robust fullness.

When using fresh basil to prepare pesto, crush the leaves first to release the flavor, then add them to the olive oil. This can be left to soak overnight if you wish, to fully infuse the oil with herbal flavor. Crushed basil seeds can be added to the oil as well, for an added flavor boost.

When you are ready to prepare the sauce, use the basil-flavored olive oil to mix in your garlic, grated cheese, and toasted pine nuts.

Italian Large Leaf forms the basis of most pesto recipes.

In the case of using dried basil leaves, soak them in water or olive oil over night to revive them. Once any herb has been dried, the flavor will be more mild than that offered by fresh varieties. Once the leaves are moist again, prepare the sauce as you would normally.

2. Sweet

Sweet Basil is also rather common, and a favorite for pesto. The flavor of these leaves is mild and sweet, and it appeals to most palates when used sparingly.

Too many Sweet Basil leaves will overpower other flavors that you are trying to bring out in your pesto. As always, if you like to make pesto the wsay I do, soaking your leaves overnight in olive oil before preparing your pesto will give you the best flavor.

This sweet variety is great for everyday use.

3. Thai

To add a spicier kick to your pesto, try Thai Basil. This Thai variety is actually a cultivar of Sweet Basil that has been selected for a slightly spicy anise or licorice taste. The very bright flavor is great for those who seek to liven up their pesto and make it dance on the palate.

Its purple flowers and stems also make it readily identifiable.

If you like the taste of anise, try this Thai variety.

When using Thai Basil, be sure to balance the amount of parsley used to match that of the basil to eliminate any aftertaste, should you use too much.

First-time users sometimes overflavor their pesto with the Thai variety, leaving only the taste of the basil with its strong anise kick.

If you are new to using this particular variety in your sauce, go gently for the first few uses, until you get a feel for the flavoring. Remember to taste as you go along!

4. Red Rubin

Red Rubin Basil has a flavor that’s great for those in search of a more intriguing taste. These wonderful purple leaves add color, and a clove-like flavor to your dishes.

Be careful when using it in a pesto – too much will destroy the sauce, and too little will just leave a bitter aftertaste.

Red Ruben growing next to Big Leaf – it’s a great contrast to incorporate in a dish that uses whole leaves, and in your kitchen garden.

If you haven’t used this type before, experiment with it in your pesto and other dishes. You may not care for the flavor in pesto, but love it in a pork dish. Red Rubin is not for everyone.

5. Lemon

Lemon Basil tastes just like it sounds – lemony! The aroma and flavor is pure, clean, and crisp, and it works wonderfully in sauces. This variety gives a little bit of a lift to traditional pesto, and a light zing to the taste buds.

Add a touch of lemon to your dishes without using an actual lemon!

This type compliments other basils beautifully, so mix it with Italian large leaf or Red Rubin, for a signature taste that’s uniquely your own.

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Basil also lives up to its name, smelling and tasting a bit like cinnamon, and slightly warming. When used lightly, Cinnamon Basil will give your pesto a lift in directions you never thought of before.

This type can also be mixed with other varieties to achieve distinctive flavors, or it can be used alone to grant a wholly unique flavor to the dish.

Cinnamon Basil can usually be identified (without tasting) by its semi-lobed leaves.

Regardless of whether you are a beginning cook or an experienced chef, a basic understanding of the herbs and spices you cook with is essential.

And, understanding that there are several versions available of any given herb or spice is equally essential.

To truly achieve a distinctive style of cooking, you must experiment with all of the flavors you can find. Mix them, crush them, blend them, and learn to cook with them.

What will you season with basil? And what kind will you use? Let us know in the comments!

About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!


The wonderful thing about Melissa McCarthy hosting SNL this week is we knew she was going to bless us with another turn as White House Press Secretary Sean “Spicy” Spicer. But things got a little… weird.

The sketch began with Aidy Bryant as deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders greeting the press in lieu of Spicer, who she said was fulfilling some Naval Reserve duties (but who was totally hiding in the bushes outside the press room).

The press took the opportunity to beg Sanders to take over briefing duties full time.

“You are clearly articulate and charming, whereas Sean is bullish—” and will spray you with a fire extinguisher, apparently.

McCarthy skewered a Spicer’s response to a question posed this week that President Trump is “out of control.”

Spicey’s back. #SNLLiveCoastToCoast pic.twitter.com/6XZaStI0nd

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) May 14, 2017

Glen Thrush (Bobby Moynihan), a favorite target of McCarthy’s Spicer, asked if Trump was “unhinged.”

“Oh my god, Glen, do I come to your job and slap the seven or eight hot dogs out of your mouth?” she said. “If he’s crazy, he’s crazy like a fox. With mental problems.”

Spicy’s dollies came out, this time in the not-so-subtle form of Russian nesting dolls representing Trump, Jake the Dog from Adventure Time as Comey, Maleficent as Hillary Clinton, Slimer from Ghostbusters as Steve Bannon, and Pikachu as Jeff Sessions – with a shirtless Putin doll snuck in there as a prank.

But things turn emotional when the press corps asks about Spicer’s rumored numbered days at the White House, and suggest Trump may be lying to him. Spicy’s and his mobile podium goes on a Simon and Garfunkel-soundtracked pilgrimage to the New York area – in a bit you may have seen being taped all over Twitter on Friday.

Spicy gets teary eyed when Trump – in Alec Baldwin’s second turn as the president for the evening – admits he’s been lying to the press secretary, “Only since you started working here.”

And then it gets really, rapidly weird when the pair start making out. Yeah. But is it really that farfetched?

True passion. #SNLLiveCoastToCoast pic.twitter.com/MO118U2TA3

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) May 14, 2017

American Spice Bush

The American Spice Bush is a flowering plant native to Eastern North America; from the Atlantic to Kansas, northern Florida to Ontario. It is historically prevalent in the Ohio Valley. The plant consists of a small deciduous tree or shrub, up to 16 feet tall, found in the understory of moist thickets and forests. The plant gives a small fruit, a red berry-like drupe, boasting a pronounced, especially spicy flavor.

While the new growth twigs, leaves, and buds of the spice bush can be made into a tea, and its wood burned for aromatic flavor, it is primarily the fruit of the spice bush that has earned a gastronomic application. The plant’s berry has a flavor resembling allspice with a special twang ? hence one of its synonyms, “wild allspice.” Overtones of such spices as mace and pink peppercorn might be found in spice bush berries. Despite similarities to other spices, the flavor of spice bush is utterly unique.

Lacking the chile peppers of Central America, or the wondrous seeds and barks and herbs of Southern Asia, the native peoples of the North American continent utilized a different flavor pallette in order to season and flavor their food. Spice bush berries were a prime source of flavor for centuries in North America, used by tribes such as: the Creek, Cherokee, Rappahannock, Chippewa, and Miami. European settlers also adopted it into their kitchens. Along with the berries, both Native Americans and settlers would use the twigs, shoots and bark to make tea. As online magazine Grit describes, “The berries, dried and powdered, were used during the American Revolution as a substitute for allspice, and early American settlers used dried spicebush bark in place of cinnamon. During the Civil War, spicebush tea often substituted for coffee when rations ran short. Dried leaves young branches were also steeped to make a tonic.”

Today, American Spice Bush is found at farmers markets. A favorite of creative chefs, it is also occasionally used by distillers as an aromatic botanical in the production of locally flavored American gins. While the plant continues to grow throughout its native territory, it is increasingly pushed out by human development and, even worse, the competition of non-native plants. The American Spice Bush is an ancient, indeed prehistoric, flavor unique to North America.

Mixed Native Bush Spice

This Mixed Native Bush Blend of Mountain Pepper and Lemon Myrtle with sea salt and black pepper is a flavour sensation that is the perfect accompaniment to all your savoury dishes. The bush foods in this blend have been harvested and utilised by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years, and are now being discovered by cooks all over the world. The Mountain Pepper in this Bush Tucker mix is wild-harvested and grown without pesticides in Tasmania. The Lemon Myrtle is grown Organically in the subtropical regions of Northern NSW.

Pepperleaf has an aromatic, wild spicy flavour while Pepperberry has even more spice and heat. It combines deliciously with Lemon Myrtle, which has a strong citrus aroma and imparts a deep lemon-lime flavour. These bush foods create a spicy ‘lemon pepper’ salt with tang, free of artificial additives, that can be used to add flavour to any savoury recipe.

How To Use:

Enjoy this Mixed Native Bush Blend of Mountain Pepper and Lemon Myrtle combined with sea salt and black pepper anytime you want to add a lift to recipes. Especially scrumptious with seafood and chicken, perhaps with a little fresh chilli, or simply sprinkled over steamed vegetables. Fantastic for marinades and dressings, in soups and hotpots, or over any savoury dish before serving. Serve it as an accompaniment with your favourite dips and antipasto, or add it to your next home-made bread or cheese muffins. The spicy pepper and ‘citrus’ tang in this Mixed Native Bush Blend make it a delicious Bush Tucker condiment that can be enjoyed every day.


Mountain Pepperberry and Pepperleaf, Organic Lemon Myrtle, Australian Sea Salt, Black Pepper.

Part of the proceeds of this Bush Tucker range product are proudly donated to the Watarrka Foundation: supporting the education of aboriginal children in outback central Australia.

Please contact your local store to check availability. Not available in all stores. Images for illustrative purposes only.

Ocimum basilicum Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow in the garden.

Basil is a tender perennial grown most often as an annual. Native to tropical Asia, it is now grown just about anywhere where the weather is warm enough.

Basil is a member of the mint family. If you crush a few leaves between your fingers you can smell the minty, anise flavor that accompanies fresh basil.

There are over 60 varieties of basil. Some of the more popular varieties include sweet, bush, purple, Italian, lemon, and lime. Cultivars vary in leaf size, color and flavor.

Basil grows very easily from seed. The ideal location to grow basil is in a sheltered, sunny spot outdoors. In cooler climates, basil can be grown in a greenhouse or hoop house. Compact varieties of basil can be grown indoors or in container gardens. Basil grows best in light, well-drained fertile soil.

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed.

When planting basil from seed, sow under cover in the late spring and early summer at 55F (13C). Apply a medium-fertility soil improver before planting out. When young basil has three sets of true leaves, pinch off the tips to encourage bushy growth. Continue pinching your basil after each new branch has more than two sets of leaves until it is nice and full. While this may seem to delay growth, it will create a much healthier plant.

Remove flowers to promote leaf production and lengthen the life of your plant. Once the basil plant has started to flower and go to seed, the leaves will be less tender and will eventually turn bitter.

Where to Buy Basil Plants and Seeds

Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs and can be found at almost all garden retailers, farm stands or home improvement centers. Seed packets cost about $2-$4 each and can last a few years if they are stored properly. A great source for high-quality basil seeds is Botanical Interests.

Basil plants can also be ordered online in early spring. Burpee, one of the most trusted online retailers specializing in edible seeds & plants offers over 20 varieties of basil.

You can also find small basil plants in the supermarket as well. These plants are typically meant to be used immediately since you will find a few dozen plants all growing in a tiny bit of soil. If you want to make your plants last even longer, see our article on prolonging the life of grocery store basil.

Cooking with Basil Leaves

Fresh basil is excellent with tomatoes, garlic, and mozzarella cheese.

Basil has a complex sweet, spicy aroma with notes of mint, anise, and cloves. The flavor is warm and peppery with hints of mint and anise. If you are unfamiliar with the taste of anise, it is a bit sweet with black licorice undertones.

Basil leaves are widely used as a culinary herb in both fresh and dry forms. Many cuisines and cultures use the basil leaves in sauces, soups, and salads. Basil is a very versatile herb. While basil leaves are most often used in cooking, you can also add flower buds as a garnish or in salads.

Basil is excellent in tomato-based dishes, with spinach and all types of squash. It is great in soups but don’t add it until the last thirty minutes of cooking. It can also be used in cream cheese for sandwiches, dips, and pasta dishes. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto. This herb is very important in Italian, Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese cuisines.

Sweet Basil, which is often called Genoese basil, has large bright green leaves. It is the best basil for pesto and combines nicely with tomatoes and garlic.

The best time to harvest fresh herbs is first thing in the morning before the heat has set in.

Basil is one of those herbs that benefit from frequent harvests. The more you take, the more the plant produces so the rule of thumb is harvest early and often.

The newer leaves will be the most tender, so keep this in mind during harvest. If you are using fresh basil om a recipe, try clipping the younger leaves first. It is better to cut the tops off the full plant, rather than cutting full stalks from just a section of your plant.

Don’t let your basil grow too tall when it is young, keep trimming the longer stems to encourage your basil to grow out instead of up. To prune your basil plant, follow a stem down to a leaf node where you see two sets of leaves on either side of the stem. Cut the basil right above the leaves. Your plant will sprout two new stems at each leaf section.

Enjoy this beautiful video where Juaquin Lawrence Hershman shows the children the proper way to harvest basil. A simple and very accurate way to prune basil plants to stay bushy.

Preserving Basil

How to store fresh basil

There are several ways to store fresh basil.

  • Oil. You can preserve fresh basil leaves by placing them in an airtight container, layer them lightly with salt and cover with olive oil. If placed in the refrigerator, the leaves will blacken, but the oil will be infused with a lovely basil flavor that is excellent in cooking.
  • Water. If you have a few inches of stem, you can store them in water very similar to cut flowers. Cut the very tips of the stem and remove any lower leaves. Fill a tall glass of water with room temperature water and set the basil stems in the glass. Kept in an even temperature room, the stems should sprout roots and can stay fresh for a few weeks.
  • Mason Jars. Fresh leaves can be preserved up to a week on the counter. Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of a mason jar or other airtight container. Add the leaves, seal the container and keep them on the counter at even temperatures.

Freezing Basil

One of the most popular ways to store basil is to freeze it in ice cube trays.

  1. Chop or puree the basil with a little water or olive oil
  2. Pour into ice cube trays or small Tupperware containers
  3. Freeze and place into freezer baggies or seal the container.

Basil frozen using this method will stay fresh up to three months. Freezing basil is the preferred method of storing fresh basil when basil is the primary ingredient in a dish like a pesto.

Drying Basil

While freezing is often preferred by chefs, drying basil allows you to extend the life of the herb. Dried basil can be stored up to a year.

How to dry basil

  1. Bundle fresh leaves and tie with a rubber band or cut full stems for drying
  2. Hang the herbs upside down in a well-ventilated place and allow to dry for about a week depending on the level of humidity.
  3. Avoid direct sunlight or overly hot conditions or the herbs will lose many of the oils that give them the best flavor.
  4. Once fully dry, crumble the leaves removing the stems and store in a tightly sealed container.

Basil Health Benefits

Basil flowers can be used in teas, herbal recipes, and even ice cream.

Less commonly known uses for basil are its role in medicine. While the leaves have been widely used, it is not well known that the seeds have been used as both a laxative and for the treatment of diarrhea.

Basil has also been used in cosmetics as a toning body rub when mixed with coarse sea salt and vegetable oil. When basil is used in conjunction with wine, it can be used to close enlarged pores when applied directly to the skin.

In ancient times, basil was used as an antidote for poison. It is also an herbal remedy for diseases related to the brain, heart, lungs, bladder, and kidneys. It is also mixed with borage to make a tea that is used to heighten vitality. Dried leaves are used in a snuff as a remedy for colds. Hindus used basil infused with lemon to ease the symptoms of diabetes. Basil is one of the most diverse and widely used herbs.

Fun Recipe: Basil Walnut Vinegar Dressing

Not sure what to do with all flowers late in the season? An easy recipe is to use the flowers to flavor salad and vegetable dressings.


  • 1 t Chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 cup Basil flowers (or leaves)
  • 2 tsp.Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnut pieces


  1. Finely chop the basil flowers and leaves with the garlic or mash with a mortar and pestle
  2. Blend in mustard
  3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

This recipe is nice over red-skinned potatoes, steamed vegetables or as a salad dressing.

Last updated by Virginia Dodd at January 21, 2020.

All About Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the most popular herbs in the world. Its most common cultivar, sweet basil, is known for its timeless flavor. (Nothing beats homegrown tomatoes sprinkled with fresh basil.) Many more basil cultivars have become popular in recent years and bring unique tastes to the kitchen. This annual herb is easy to grow and makes a great companion plant to tomatoes, asparagus and other vegetables.

Below we feature some of our best articles about basil. Learn how to grow and harvest this essential summer herb; discover how to incorporate its flavorful leaves into pesto, soup, pizzas, salads, biscotti and more; go over the medicinal properties of basil; ponder the existence of the mythological chocolate basil; and much more.

How to Harvest Basil Like a Pro

Basil plants are the essence of the summer herb garden. Learn how to grow, cook, harvest and store this popular aromatic herb in your home.

+ Read more.

10 Basil Plants You’ll Love

Did you know there are 30 to 150 basil species (depending on who’s counting)? Here are ten of our favorites, such as ‘Spicy Globe’, ‘Lemon’ and ‘Cinnamon’.

+ Read more.

A Cook’s Guide to Basil

Basil evokes platters of Caprese salad and endless pesto-tossed linguine. But this is only one part of the story. Discover exciting basil recipes.

+ Read more.


Even More Articles About Basil

+ An Introduction To Healing with Basil
From headaches to sore throats, learn how to heal naturally with Ocimum basilicum.

+ Preserve Basil Like a Pro
Basil is easy to grow, but keeping that fresh spicy-sweet flavor intact is not so easy.

+ Love Your Basil
Discover uncomon basil varieties with a basil enthusiast, who shows you how to grow and cook with this culinary delight.

+ Why Is My Basil Dying?
Herbs can die for many reasons; here are our tips for keeping your favorite aromatic herb thriving.


+ Does Chocolate Basil Exist?
A few rumors began circulating about a fantastic new basil with the fragrance of chocolate. We de-bunk this myth.

Sweet Basil Plant Stock Photos and Images

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