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Sweet basil, with it's wonderful aroma and flavor, is one of the most popular and widely grown herbs in the world. We associate basil with Italian cooking, so you may be surprised to find that basil originated in the far eastern countries of India, Pakistan and Thailand.
Basil has a warm, resinous, clove-like flavor and fragrance. The flowers and leaves are best used fresh and added only during the last few minutes of cooking. Basil works well in combination with tomatoes. Finely chopped basil stirred into mayonnaise makes a good sauce for fish. Use as a garnish for vegetables, chicken and egg dishes. Large lettuce-leaf basil can be stuffed as you would a grape leaf.
Basil doesn't keep well in the refrigerator. Instead, place the cut stems in water and keep them on the windowsill. Sprigs stored this way will remain fresh a week or more.