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The name Basil name comes from the Greek word for "king." Romans named it “Basilescus” after their word for fire-breathing dragon, “Basilisk”, as it was thought to be a charm against the beast. Today, Basil continues to be used in many parts of the world as an anti-venom. Some early herbalists argued the herb could drive away melancholy, while others claimed it drove men mad.
Basil has a very long and romantic history. It is believed that Basil has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Basil has been used for everything from embalming mummies in ancient Egypt, to symbolizing love to the Romans, to being holy and sacred to Hindus in India.
Basil has also had it's share of dark uses. At one time it was believed that if a person placed a few Basil Leaves under a pot a left them, a scorpion would appear in their place!
Today, the vast variety of colors and flavors of Basils make them a choice Herb for gourmet cooking.
Basil’s symbolism in the Victorian language of flowers also reflects its dual nature. It signifies both hatred (for common basil) and best wishes (for sweet basil)!
To store, chefs say it is best to treat fresh basil like a flower. Put stems in a pot or glass of water; use within three to six days. Refrigerating fresh basil causes this delicate herb to develop dark brown spots, which ruins its flavor and presentation. To freeze, puree basil leaves with a little water; pour into ice-cube trays. Put cubes in freezer bags; keep frozen.