Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Spotlight - Profumo di Genova Basil

Hands down, this is my favorite basil and if I'm only going to grow one variety (which I typically do) this is it. I've been growing it for years. My sowing notes for last year indicate that I cleaned out a packet of 2002 seeds and some of those seeds actually germinated. So I've been growing this basil for at least 11 years and probably longer.

It's not just your typical Genovese basil, it's been bred to have an excellent basil flavor without being too spicy. It's also nice in the garden because it doesn't get to be too big, nor is it too small. I tried a dwarf container variety of Genovese basil a couple of years ago and really didn't like it because it was so compact that it was difficult to harvest. Another time I purchased some basil plants instead of growing my favorite (for whatever dumb reason) and found the plants to be too large and floppy, and just not as tasty. I've grown Thai basil, lemon basil, sacred basil, you name it I've tried it and this is the one that I keep coming back to. The only other basil that I grow every year is African Blue, but I grow that for the bees, good bugs, and it's sheer beauty - it is not good tasting, but it does smell fantastic.

Here's one of my current plants. I took this photo a few days ago and you may have already seen it on another post. Sorry, but I'm not going to venture out into today's 94ºF (34ºC) heat to take another photo, trust me it hasn't changed much in a few days.

This variety makes the best pesto. And it's equally good paired with tomatoes in a classic Caprese salad. I use it in my Asian flavored preparations. I use it with abandon in all sorts of dishes when it is in season. I've even flavored ice cream with it - big yum! The season for basil in my garden is from about mid-June through October, perhaps into November if the weather doesn't get too cold and wet. Fungal diseases are what generally kill off my basil plants weeks before the first frost.

My little plants are already getting a good workout. I keep going out and snipping off shoots. The plants are responding by branching out and getting bushier which is what you want to do with basil. Ideally you do not want to let the plants bloom and the best way to keep them from blooming is to snip the ends of the branches back as I've been doing.

Below is a photo of my basil patch last year. It wasn't as happy as it is this year. I'm not sure if it was because it was growing in brand new imported soil in my brand new raised bed. Or perhaps it was because it didn't like the cooler than usual weather last year.

It eventually came around though and then got completely out of hand. I think I just planted too much of it last year. I also had it growing in a couple of large pots closer to the kitchen so those were the plants that I kept snipping and the plants in the garden were not trimmed enough.

I finally cut it back and made a couple of large batches of pesto. The pesto was great even though I harvested the leaves when the plants were in full bloom. That's another thing I like about this basil, it stays good tasting even when it's in full bloom. I've got my favorite pesto recipe on my recipe blog.

I don't try to preserve basil because I really only like it fresh and I can turn to other fresh herbs when basil won't grow in my garden. So, I'm sorry I can't say how well this variety dries or freezes.

Seeds for Profomo di Genova basil are available from Renee's Garden Seeds.


  1. Also my favorite basil and the only one I plant. I just planted some more seedlings in my greenhouse, which is where I have to grow it here in Montana. I freeze a lot. I actually put the leaves in boiling water for a minute, then shock them in cold water, this process keeps the pesto bright green. Then I blend in the food processor with a tiny bit of olive oil and salt and freeze. I add the cheese, nuts, garlic and more salt when I make it for serving later. A real treat in the middle of Winter!

  2. I'll have to look for this next year...I didn't plant as much basil this year, in fact only have it in 2 pots o the deck with the rest of the herbs. I always dry it, as I love it in so many things. I make pesto too. I cut back on the basil this year because I still have about 4 pounds of dried basil i the pantry, lol.

  3. It looks a lot like the one I grow but then many look pretty similar don't they. My basil plants finally gave up this week so I'm looking at yours very jealously. I've never found basil changes taste much when it flowers but perhaps I too have been lucky about the varieties I've grown.

  4. I've always grown sweet basil. I keep thinking some day I ought to try a few varieties side by side to see which is the best tasting to me.

  5. What a vibrant looking basil! I sowed some basil seeds this year, but my seedlings were destroyed by rain unfortunately.

  6. Thanks for this meditation on what would seem a quotidian choice of herb! I'm always tempted by the other variety of basils being offered at the farmers' market, but they've never satisfied in the way that a classic basil does. Where do you get your seeds, and is does the Genovese go by another name? Would Franchi's Italiano Classico be the same thing?

  7. Wow! That is really great looking basil. Your description of it makes me want to give this one a try next year. My basil is growing in the greenhouse and recently endured some kind of bug attack. I sprayed it with some insecticidal soap and it seems to be bouncing back. It looks kind of rough though.

  8. I've been growing this one for years too. It is amazing how different the strains of 'Genova' basils can smell and taste. This is one is so distinctive. And I do dry it, and it does well when fresh basil isn't available.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.