A cultivar of sweet basil, cinnamon basil actually contains the same chemical as cinnamon bark, which is why the two herbs smell and taste similar. This beautiful basil plant has purple leaves and little pink flower as it matures. Many people prefer to start this plant indoors prior to growing season since, like all basil, it’s sensitive to cold. However, once the weather warms, putting this basil in your garden keeps mites and aphids away, making it an excellent companion plant for tomatoes.
What to Expect
A full grown cinnamon basil plant reaches upward of 30 inches and requires about 18” between plants so it can fill out. Keep this in mind if you’re doing square foot gardening or container gardens. A mature leave may measure as much as 2” in length.
For best results plant two weeks after the last frost. Seeds go ¼” into the soil, spaced at least 1” apart between seeds, and 1 foot apart between rows. With 10 days you’ll have seedlings that need to be thinned out. You can safely do this when they’re 2” tall. Move them to at least 12” apart with 18” being ideal.
Bear in mind that like all basil plants, this herb likes full sun and well drained soil. Soggy areas, and those with too much shade, lead to very poor growth. Pinch back the bush as it grows to encourage more leaf production. This also lengthens the growing period.
Have you grown, tasted, cooked with or had any experience at all with this basil variety? If you have, I'd love to hear about it! Share your experience here.
Harvesting and Drying
Harvest the basil before the sun reaches full heat. This insures that your leaves will have the most amount of natural oils. Snip off the stalks and gently clean off the leaves of any debris using cool water. At this point you can dry the herbs in sunlight, the oven, a dehydrator or by hanging them in bundles in a warm, dry room. If using sunlight, place the herbs on a screen so that air circulates evenly around all sides of the herb. Oven drying is faster, but keep your heat on the lowest possible setting and check the herb often so it doesn’t burn.
Mince up your freshly picked basil as finely as possible. Mix with just a little water and pack it into ice cube trays. Pop out one cube whenever you want fresh flavor!
Cinnamon basil has a unique spicy-sweet quality, meaning you can use it to flavor fruits as well as being a savory herb. Steeping the leaves in oil makes a lovely cooking blend. Alternatively steep the leaves in water for tea. Basil is very good for you!
For global gourmets, this herb is ideal for Middle Eastern dishes calling for cinnamon.
Because this basil plant combines two specific aromatics you can use it as an aromatherapy treatment for headaches, depression, stress reduction, improved energy, and better blood circulation, just to name a few. To use the herb you can decoct your own aromatic oil by simply steeping fresh leaves in either vodka for a tincture or in oil for use in massage, bathing or skin care products.
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