Genovese Basil

berkeleyluddite(z9 ca)July 19, 2005

Are Genovese Basil and Sweet Basil very similar? My Genovese Basil pesto seems to be a little better tasting than my Sweet Basil pesto. They definetly look different but the taste difference is very subtle...

Can any one tell me where I can get the best seeds for next year? Are there different hybrids of Genovese that are most prolific? I've only bought basi plants this year and spent way too much money.


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No help on the seeds; I just gather my own every year.

But I agree that there is a bit of a difference and I prefer the Genoa basil. It makes the better pesto I think, and is as good or better in most applications. Every year I grow a couple of special basils -- lemon, cinnamon, thai -- but Genoa is the one I have to have every year!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:43PM
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berkeleyluddite(z9 ca)

how do you collect seeds the end of season. This is the first year I'm growing basil so when do I let the plant grow and flower and how do I keep the seed? Does living out here in Northern CA extend the season?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 5:15PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I bought mine from Seeds from Italy. For that matter, I have plenty of extras, and would be happy to part with some for a SASE. Canadian-based Richters is another dependable source; allow a few weeks for order processing and customs.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 11:33AM
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berkeley -- harvesting the seeds is super simple. Just let the seed flower; after the flowers die you'll see flat green disks forming where the flowers were. Let those ripen, and when they are brown and crispy simply crumble them between your fingers, and the very small black seeds come spilling out. Plus, your fingers smell like basil.

I'm used the seeds pods, disks, whatever -- in potpourri. Gives a stronger basil scent than the dried leaves!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 7:32PM
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I always thought that genovese was the variety, i'm not aware of any particular genovese hybrids but there certainly could be. Genovese and sweet definately have different flavors. I always read that genovese is best for pesto (which makes sense cause pesto is a genoa specialty-I remember eating it in Genoa specifically). I like sweet basil for things like tomato salads (capressi salads) and in pasta sauces.

Just as a heads up, basil certainly grows fine from seed. But start it early, it just seems to take forever to get it to the size of a plant that you would need for making pesto. I usually give up, and buy a few plants. Also basil just LOVES sun and heat, and keep pinching those buds off to get it nice full and big.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 10:56PM
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laxfan(z7 GA)

I also get my genovese basil from Seeds From Italy. This year I'm also growing a small-leafed basil (piccolo verde) which as far as I've been able to ascertain is the variety used to make pesto in Liguria. Or so they told me! Although you'll read things like "extremely pungent" about it I find the taste very similar to genovese.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 5:50PM
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berkeleyluddite(z9 ca)

I have couple of the small leafed basil too... My experience with them has been super negative. I made a small batch of basil with them and it tasted like concentrated basil medicine. It was so pungent and intense that I found it to be too offensive for my palette. I pulled those out and replaced them with Genovese basil. I love to use basil only as pesto. I did however use the last of the small leafed basil to make a bottle of flavored olive oil. Hope it turns out well since I haven't tried it yet.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 12:21AM
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I'm surprised that the little leaved varieties were so intense. When I grow those I like to sprinkle them on salad, because you don't have to cut them to get little bite sized pieces. (I find the cut edges turn brown pretty fast when they're exposed to the air.)

I'm not very fond of some of the really camphor-y tasting basils, like African blue. If I wanted that resin-like taste I'd eat rosemary! (Or turpentine, I suppose.)

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 8:57PM
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laxfan(z7 GA)

My experience matches Alison's- I find the small-leave basil similar to my genovese in strength and it's working out well for us.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 3:10PM
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Genovese basil is more tasty then other kinds because it was bread for pesto. The small leaf kinds are great for marinades and oils because of there intense flavor.
Alison thats a great idea for the potpourri

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 4:28PM
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I am growing Genovese, Napolitano, and Thai basils and bought the seeds online from Johnny's Select Seeds. All have done wonderfully: just gave a neighbor three grocery bags full of basil for pesto she wants to freeze and might make some myself this afternoon. The Genovese and Napolitano have wonderful large flavorful leaves. Thai has small, intensely licorish leaves and beautiful purple flowers. (I know, I should get out there and clip those flowers off.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Johnny's Seeds

    Bookmark   August 27, 2005 at 10:37AM
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bmckay(Z5b MA)

REgarding small leaf basil, there are a couple of types, some more pungent than the other. Verde a piccole foglie (small green leaf) is a small leaf basil that is not particularly aromatic; it is more like a genovese. The other one, verde nano compatto a palla (small compact green ball) which is sometimes called greek basil is really pungent. It grows in a pretty perfect ball shape. Sometimes people just cut it to bring the smell of basil inside (sometimes folks just run their hands over it. Mostly people eat it.

Bill McKay in Massachusetts.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 5:29PM
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laxfan(z7 GA)

thanks, Bill! The small-leaf I have is verde a piccole foglie- which I got from Bill! I recommend it highly.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 4:12PM
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I have a nagging question, do you cover the basil seed lightly or not at all ? I have an older Rodale book that says dont cover the seeds they need air to germinate. help and thoughts appreciated... bill

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 5:56AM
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teryaki(z5B NE OHIO)

My experience says very light cover for basil seed.

Richters lists 5 varieties of Genovese seed in their '06 catalog: Standard, Special Select FT(TM), Compatto FT, GECOFURE(TM), and Envigor(TM).

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 10:31PM
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I never cover basil seed. Same with lettuce. It needs light to germinate. Do your own trial. See which one germinates first. BTW, you can do that on top of your fridge, if it's not a built-in. Nice and warm up there. That's where my tomatoes & peppers are right now.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 11:04PM
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Harper tks, for input,i know herbs need air to germinate but didnt know basil needs light. I will give this way a try...bill PS some say pepper seeds also needs light, but never tried this way..

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 7:34AM
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Bill, I cover pepper seeds too. Never heard not to.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 12:59PM
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summer_fashion(z5 IN)

I just planted three little Genoa basil starts that I bought from May's Greenhouse in Bloomington Indiana. I think it's a lot easier and quicker to plant starts instead of seeds. I'm going to the Farmer's Market here this Saturday to get more Genoa basil starts. My plan is to plant a whole lot of basil so that I can make lots and lots of Pesto Sauce and freeze it. Margaret

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 2:37PM
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teryaki(z5B NE OHIO)

Not if you want a big crop, say for a year's worth of pesto and pasta sauce for a family. You can grow a dozen plants for three bucks (seeds + those peat starter disks), or get one plant for the same price. And seeds offer more variety. I'm in love with Green Gate, a big bush basil with wonderful flavor and fusarium resistance. I've never seen it at a nursery.

And seeds are more satisfying, IMO. You did all the work to give this little package of life waiting to happen the best chance it could get. :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 6:56PM
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Am new to growing herbs. I just love the smell of this basil. Bought a plant a month or so ago and it is growing well. Have a cutting in my windowsill which has rooted & flowered. Will try to harvest a few seeds. Will it winter over indoors if I bring it in? It's still quite warm & sunny during the day but can get a little chilly at night now. Should I let the main plant flower now? At what point should I just freeze what's left? Next year I want to grow more of this basil & maybe some Thai basil & some dill. Starts might be easier for me, but if I can get some seeds out of this plant that would be satisfying too.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 9:32PM
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I have had good luck bringing basil inside and putting it in
my sunniest window. I have had basil up until February when it starts to looks "tired". I have had good luck freezing the leaves by placing them between foil and pressing all the air out. Then I place them in a zip-lock freezer bag. They have actually been very green and I used them on pizza.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 1:32PM
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I had an Aunt who use to keep Basil leaves preserved thru the winter by taking a non reactive container like glass and layer a small amt of Kosher salt and then the basil leaf not touching on the salt and then another layer of salt and so forth until she had this layered basil and salt method and when she needed some basil she dig into the salt and get some leaves. I remember their being still green in Feb. I haven't tried myself yet I may next year when I regrow the basil, this year was a bad year for me on basil.

Good luck

Big Al

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 9:19AM
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jackie89(z6 SWIdaho)

I had trouble with some varieties of basil getting a wilt when I grew them in my herb bed. Genovese was one. I had better luck in a pot, but it still died by August. Last year I grew Large Leafed Italian and have better luck, though I agree the flavor is not as nice for pesto.

This year I want to try GECOFURE BASIL, a Genovese that is smaller and so more suited for containers. I saw somewhere that it is also disease resistant.

I like the flavor of the globe basil. Pine Tree Seeds has seeds for one in its Italian section that has an esp. nice flavor. They are also great in pots.

Ah, Spring isn't far away!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 12:23PM
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