Genovese Basil is perhaps the most famous sweet basil variety in the world. Known for its use in pesto, the best Genovese Basil is said to be grown in western Genoa, Italy.
So, why is Genovese Basil so special? Its round leaves are dark green and appear more matte than those of its shinier cousin, Common Basil. The taste is also more ‘matte’, if that makes sense – the basil flavour is more concentrated and is somehow less sweet.
What is certain is that Genoese people take their beloved baxaicò (as they call it) and their pesto very seriously; Genovese Basil has even gained DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status from the Italian Government.
|Latin name||Ocimum basilicum|
|Variety||Italiano Classico (Genovese)|
|Plant size|| Height: 40 cm|
Width: 20 cm
|Container size|| Height: 20 cm|
Width: 20 cm
|Companion plant(s)||Tomatoes, peppers, oregano, parsley, garlic chives, alpine strawberries|
|Planting indoors||Feb to Mar|
|Planting outdoors||Apr to Jun|
|Germination||5 to 10 days|
|Harvesting||40 to 60 days|
|Planting||1 cm to 3 cm apart at 0.3 cm depth|
|Thinning||3 cm to 5 cm between plants|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil||Well-drained, light and moist soil|
|Watering||Regular watering, not overdone|
|Caring||To promote a nice bushy plant with lots of scented leaves, prune this basil early and often by pinching off the upper set of leaves. Cut the flowers off to prevent the leaves from becoming bitter.|
|Beneficial wildlife||Attracts bees and butterflies.|
|Pests||Repels aphids and mosquitoes. Improves the health of other plants (and people!).|
|Harvesting||Pinch out leaves as you need them. As fresh basil wilts and loses both its colour and fragrance soon after harvesting, it is best to keep basil in a glass of water and in a cool, dry, dark spot. Use any that is left over from your recipes for a refreshing herbal tea.|
|Eating|| Medicinal properties: Refreshing and relaxing, basil stimulates appetite and lifts the mood.|
How to eat: Take two cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt, one tablespoon of pine nuts, thirty leaves of Genovese Basil, six tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, two tablespoons of Pecorino cheese and half a cup of olive oil. Add them to a pestle and mortar in this order, pounding them together. Mash slowly until you are happy with the flavour and consistency. Hey presto, that’s pesto!