There are more than 150 different types of basil: Many excel in foods, some are used primarily for medicine, and others are highly ornamental. Thankfully, not all types are easily found in seed catalogs and nurseries. But there’s still a surplus of common varieties to choose from, all of which range in colors, flavors, textures and forms.
The most common culinary type is often referred to simply as sweet basil. These varieties have higher concentrations of certain volatile oils that create a relatively sweeter basil flavor. Other types may have accents of lemon, lime, clove, cinnamon, licorice or even mint. Lemon basil, for example, contains citral and limonene oils, resulting in a similar sweet basil flavor heightened by lemon. The overall composition of these volatile oils is what ultimately determines the taste and aroma.
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