Basil (Purple Dark Opal)
An occasional variegated plant will appear in this strain adding to the beauty. Ocimum basilicum
Dark Purple Opal Basil History
Scarchuk and Lent performed several years of breeding to develop a purple basil variety with a uniform appearance and flavor, eventually creating Dark Opal basil. The new variety was released in 1962 through the Ferry-Morse Seed Company, and over time, the purple cultivar became a common home garden plant. Dark Purple Opal Basil is an 18-24 in. bushy plant with deep maroon leaves. The leaves have a mild, spicy basil flavor. Plant in late spring after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to a depth of 6 in. Rows should be 12 in. apart. When seedlings are 2 in. high, thin, leaving 6-8 in. between plants. Harvest throughout the season by cutting the tops off the plants, aggressively. Do not let the plants flower. If blossoms occur, they are edible
Growing Dark Purple Opal Basil
Plant seeds/seedlings about ¼-inch deep and 10 to 12 inches apart. They should grow to about 12 to 24 inches in height. Basil will grow best in a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily, though it can perform well in partial sun, too. Soil should be moist but well-drained. Basil works great in containers or raised beds, as these allow for better drainage. If you’re planning on cooking with these plants, plant in clean soil, don’t use insecticides, and grow them away from driveways and busy streets so that exhaust won’t settle on the plants.
Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the plants (the mulch will help hold in moisture and suppress weeds). During the dry periods in summer, water the plants freely. After the seedlings have produced their first six leaves, prune to above the second set. This encourages the plants to start branching, resulting in more leaves for harvest. Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves. After about 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off. If the weather is going to be cold or if a sudden frost is imminent, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold temperatures will destroy your plants.
Preserving And Storing Herb Purple Dark Opal Basil
Basil is one of the most aromatic and bright-tasting herbs you can season your food with, and it’s not half-bad when it’s dry either. Drying basil is really quite simple. Of course, there are a few best practices you’ll want to follow for optimal results.
Cooking With Purple Dark Opal Basil
Adding fresh basil brings an herbaceous hint to any recipe that’s irresistible. Basil is can be used in both traditional and unique ways: from classic Margherita Pizza and Basil Pesto to interesting spins like Peach Crisp with Basil or Basil Strawberry Popsicles
basil is most widely used for cooking, but many other varieties — with slightly different flavor profiles — are available. The main type of basil for supplements and herbal tea is holy basil, which is a related but different species. Because basil is generally used in small quantities, the only substantial nutrient it provides is vitamin K. Basil also supplies plant compounds, which contribute aroma, flavor and health benefits. Both sweet and holy basil have a long history of medicinal use. A few studies in people suggest benefits for blood sugar and stress, though more research is necessary. Basil enlivens many dishes, including pastas, salads and sauces. If using fresh basil, add it toward the end of cooking since heat subdues its flavor and color. Use about 1/3 of the amount of dried basil compared to fresh.
Other Basil Varieties Worth Checking Out
Lemon Basil is an heirloom variety from New Mexico. Intense citrus scent, excellent for seafood recipes and also making flavored vinegars. Plants grow 12-18″ tall and do well in pots. Dries extremely well.
Sweet Genovese Basil is the classic Italian sweet basil, prized for its large leaves, wonderful aroma and spicy flavor. Sweet genovese basil is the best choice for making pesto. The best genoese basil is said to be grown in Prà, a western delegation of the city of Genoa. The nearby presence of a large steel mill from the 1950s to the 1980s threatened the cultivar, said to be necessary to produce the “real” genoese pesto.