Should I Use Fresh or Dried Basil?
With basil, fresh is best. Dried basil does not retain much flavor. And many recipes using basil, like pesto, require the fresh variety.
There are lots of varieties of basil popping up on shelves. Tey all have slightly different flavors. Use them interchangeably, and see which taste you prefer!
When Can I Get the Freshest Basil?
Basil is freshest and cheapest in the summer, but you can find fresh basil year-round. Look for bright, green leaves without any brown discoloration. You can sometimes buy "living basil," with the roots still attached--doesn't get fresher than that.
How Do I Use Basil?
Add chopped fresh basil in the last few seconds of cooking, or just before you serve. The basil flavor won't survive if you add it earlier in the cooking process.
How Do I Grow Basil?
It's easiest if you start with a plant, which a garden store will carry. Basil needs full sun, so gardeners often plant basil with their tomatoes (these two are a natural flavor match, too).