Taste: Lemon basil has a unique herbal, sweet, and tangy flavor with notes of lemon mixed with anise. In the late summer, the plants also produce lemon-scented, small white flowers that bloom on long, light green bracts.
Benefits: Lemon basil is an excellent source of beta-carotene, a pigment that is converted into vitamin A in the body to protect against vision loss. The greens are also a good source of vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing and provide some magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, calcium, and vitamin C. In addition to vitamins and minerals, Lemon basil contains the compounds limonene and citral, contributing to the herb’s citrus-like flavor and supplying some anti-inflammatory properties.
Culinary Use: Lemon basil is best suited as a finishing element and can be utilized in both raw and cooked applications. It is important to note that Lemon basil should be added just before plating to maintain the herb’s flavor and aromatic qualities. The leaves can be lightly torn and tossed into green salads, minced into dips and vinaigrettes, or stirred into beverages, including cocktails, iced tea, and lemonade. Lemon basil can also be rubbed over meats to impart a subtle flavoring, mixed into rice, pasta, and noodle bowls, or thinly sliced and served over fresh peaches as a bright appetizer. In addition to fresh applications, Lemon basil can be infused into oils or syrups and incorporated into jams, crumbles, cobblers, ice cream, and puddings. Lemon basil will also add a citrusy, anise flavor to cookies, scones, or other baked goods. In some regions of Southeast Asia, the white flowers are eaten in combination with the leaves, tossed into salads, soups, and slaws