Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon Basil
Originally uploaded by linfrye
Daily Practice
Plein Air

I sat in front of these blooming cinnamon basil plants in my garden last week, KNOWING that to get the best flavor from the leaves, I needed to snip the flowers so that the fragrant oils remained in the leaves. But mercy, I found them far too pretty to do that! LOL

I grow cinnamon basil to dry for winter use. I love the Italian, large-leaved varieties, Genovese basil and the rest, but when those leaves are dried for use in cheeses, for instance, their flavor evaporates -- and there is no 'basil' taste. But the spicy varieties, and especially cinnamon basil, all contain more of what I think of when I think of basil - a heady fragrance, a bit of a bite, a green herbness - a wonderful taste! And even dried, this variety KEEPS those flavors. The leaves are smaller than Genovese -- but PACKED with flavor.

I use the dried leaves in cheese mixes, pasta sauce, bruschetta and the like. I'll be giving an herb talk the week after next and sharing this recipe with them -- so I thought I'd share it with you too. Though fresh herbs can be used, I find dry herbs to contain far more concentrated flavor:

Goat (or Cream) Cheese with Herbs


10 1/2 ounces cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons each (if fresh) 1 teaspoon each if dried):
Anise Hyssop
Italian Parsley (the flat leaved variety)
Sweet Marjoram
Basil (here I use cinnamon)

A dash of Chives and pinch of cayenne pepper
Milk for thinning

In a bowl, combine the cheese, herbs and pepper. Blend well. Add the milk if you would like it thinner, a small amount at a time, then mix again. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Bring to room temperature before serving with fresh vegetables and crackers.



  1. Your delicate touch shows how much you love this plant. A real beauty, Lin. Thanks for the recipe too....Yum :)

  2. Miss Lin, thank you! I learned a lot from this post--wish it weren't too late to buy some cinnamon basil! I'm growing three kinds, the Italian, some opal basil (I think) and then the regular kind, but they all lose a lot of flavor...

  3. Thank you, Pam and Kate .... Kate, there is plenty of time to grow some by seed -- or some of the Thai or Spicy Bush basil -- on your windowsill kept in a sunny location ... great stuff!

  4. I let my basil go to flower too as the insects really seem to enjoy it. I then buy a few new fresh pots for myself.


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