AKA: ocimum kilimandscharicum, camphor basil, dark opal – 22 July 17
About a month ago I picked up this little shrub of basil from a local farmers market.
African blue basil it’s called. It’s a small perennial shrub boasting small green pungent leaves that smell like camphor or aniseed. The new growth is a stunning bright purple and it has pretty purple flowers.
The best thing about this is that it never goes to seed so it’s a great way to enjoy fresh basil year round. What’s not to love! Well apparently this basil, doesn’t love the cold so bring it inside during winter and stand it in a sunny window which looks pretty too.
This is one tough plant that appears to be able to withstand my amateur gardening skills, so I recommend it for anyone wanting to have some long lasting fresh herbs available to perk up their cooking. You can grow it in the garden or in a pot like I do that way you can move it indoors if it gets too cold. It’s quite a bit stronger than conventional basil so you only need a little bit.
Above: leaves of the African Blue Basil
Here some other features about African Blue Basil
Leaves give a slight camphor/aniseed scent, strong when the leaves are rubbed. The flowers have a strong scent too.
The leaves taste like aniseed and peppery, this is slightly stronger in flavour than regular basil.
It has small green leaves (these will get bigger as the plant matures) with bright purple new growth and long stems of small purple flowers emerging from the top. It looks great on the counter top.
Perennial, All year round
From my experience, African blue basil is just as versatile as other regular varieties. Use the basil leaves in pasta sauces, curries and stir-fry but a little more sparingly than conventional basil.
Basil and tomato complement each other beautifully so try mixing some in with a nice fresh tomato salad with some feta, cucumber and a balsamic dressing. This basil would also complement bruschetta nicely.
I haven’t tried this yet but I think this basil would make a punchy homemade pesto.
If you like making your cooking look swish you could also use the flowers as a decorative touch, you can also eat them.
Keep an eye out for this one in your local nursery.
Here’s a good vid from Herb Fest about African Blue Basil.