Basil is an aromatic herb belonging to the Labiate family, whose name derives from the Greek «basilikón», which also means «royal treasure». The plant can reach 20 inches in height, it is not found in the spontaneous state but is cultivated, especially in warm regions. There are numerous varieties of basil with different aromatic characteristics. The best known is the "Genovese" with very fragrant leaves; then there is the «Napoletano» with slightly crumpled leaves and a less intense aroma, reminiscent of that of mint; and, finally, the 'Mammouth' variety with very thick leaves (sometimes as wide as a hand).
The best time for harvesting and using basil is the one immediately preceding flowering, when the essential oil content that determines the scent is higher, while, as it ages, the aroma becomes a little spicier.
For use in the kitchen, basil should neither be cut with a blade nor chopped, but torn with your fingers, as upon contact with the metal some substances are developed that alter its flavor (which is why in the preparation of pesto it is recommended to use a mortar). However, if the herb is chopped with other flavors it still gives off an intense scent. Basil can be preserved in different ways: it can be dried, it can be put in oil, or frozen. In the latter case, you chop it up with your hands and put it in the ice trays.