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Four different types of basil all tasteless

May 9, 2009

I planted four different types of basil: Genovese Sweet, Sweet Nufar, Aromatic Cinnamon, and Greek. I just sampled some leaves raw right off the plants and none of them has much taste. Maybe the best of the bunch was the Genovese. I put a handful of the leaves in a pot of spaghetti sauce and couldn't taste it. Anything I can do to get a stronger taste, or should I use a different variety?

Comments (9)

  • ksrogers

    How old are the plants? Who long ago were they 'planted'/ Did you use any kind of fertilizer? All these factors can affect taste. For fresh basilto falvor a sauce, it needs to be added when serving the sauce, and si chopped. Genovee type is small leaves bushy plant and about 12-18 inches when mature. Some of the colored basils are just for show and lack the strong flavors. I make fresh pesto from a LOT of basil leaves, piune nuts, garlic, olive oil and a little fresh thyme. After two days in the fridge the pesto seems to lose some basil taste. Similar to the more volitile cilantro. I plan to chop in soe of my wild onion tops as chives. Fresh basil s also somewaht mild when added to a sauce tat may have a lot of other flavors like oregano, thyme, rosemary, and others. Adding a dash of MSG can help a little, if you don't have any issues with it. Freshly dried basil can help to increase taste. The rule of thumb is use more fresh compared to dried if the recipe calls for dried. THe bsil needs to mature some, and if its producing any flower shoots, they must all be pinched off asap. THe flower parts are quite strong flavored when in the short green stages, but also somewhat bitter.

    Finally, Gardens Alive offers a special fertilizer blend specifcally for growing herbs. It helps to increase the essential oils the herbs produce, be it foliage, seeds, or in the case of coriander a tiny fruit.

  • takadi

    I'm growing the "normal" sweet variety and it's pretty tasteless so far too, even when cooked a bit. I transplanted them outside into the soil. Lately it has been raining like crazy, with bouts of hot sunny weather in between, and the aroma has greatly intensified. Not sure about the taste though

  • Daisyduckworth

    It's the sun that does it. Basil and other Mediterranean herbs need as much sun as they can get, preferably with some bite to it. In fact, they can handle fierce heat, and like it, all day every day.

    It's the sun and heat which encourages the plants to produce more of those essential oils which give the leaves flavour and aroma. In a climate where the sun is more wishy-washy, you won't get the same strong flavour at all.

    In my subtropical climate, all the neighbourhood can smell it when I cut back my basils! Well, my immediate neighbour can - he comes a'running for the prunings!

    Basil likes a richer soil than most of the popular herbs, but too much of a good thing will destroy its flavour. So perhaps ease back on the fertiliser.

  • ksrogers

    This is the reason I use the GA fertilizer for herbs. Its slow release, and all organic. Doesn't affect tastes in a bad way. My rosemary was quite sticky when I harvested it two years ago in fall. My tarragon just got a little dose and is now twice the size from just last week. The Thyme is bright deep green and with leaves a bit bigger this year compared to last year. My dill is everywhere now and a lot of te new seedlings have been chopped off as its growing in areas where I don't want it.

  • maifleur01

    Do not want you to panic but divide a leaf(s) with a friend. If the friend can taste the flavor you might want to go to your doctor and take a couple of leaves along as an example. Some sinus or other infections can cause a problem with taste. I lost my tasteer for several years. Finally when I mentioned I found out I had polyups. Doctor did not think they were causing problems so he ignored them.

    They finally went away but lost about 8 years that I could not fully enjoy my garden.

  • cyrus_gardner

    I agree wit Daisy. Sun is a big factor.

    Also I would think that too much rain or watering can make most herbs less aromatic and pungant. Also older plants produce stronger flavor. Flavor (Oil responsible for it) is produced gradually. Therefore older leaves should be more flavorfull. To make the flavor even stronger, I would add some young/green seed pods and even flowers.You can also put woody stems in the sauce and discard them before serving.

    I like Thai basils for their stronger flavor over other.

  • novice_2009

    So, sun helps them develop flavor. They will all go in my sunny veggie garden! You guys know so much. I can learn anything reading a thread on this forum. What do you think about fish emulsion/and or seaweed as fertilizer for herbs?

  • Daisyduckworth

    Fish emulsion and seaweed make excellent fertilisers, but with herbs (even basil, which is hungrier than many) it's a case of 'go easy'. If you've over-fertilised, there's a good chance that you're ruining your plants. As with humans, being over-fed can have detrimental effects!

    I prefer the more gentle approach, and use compost as a fertiliser. Not only does it provide all the nutrients required, but it also improves the soil condition. Just a handful or two tossed around the base of your plants every now and then is enough.

  • novice_2009

    Thanks again daisy!

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