Common basil (botanical name: Ocimum basilicum) is widely known as a Mediterranean herb. It finds its way fresh or dried into sauces and soups, crowns pizzas and salads, goes well with fish and meat, is made into pesto and is a must in tomato sauce and ratatouille. In addition, it is also processed into basil leaf extract, a fine brownish-yellow powder. The extract contains a wide range of different components. It is used in the food and cosmetics industries. In the garden, the mint attracts many insects during its blooming period, particularly bumblebees, bees and butterflies. Like many herbs, basil is also associated with superstition and mystical meaning. Rather harmless and worth a try is this tip: A pot with basil in a room is supposed to keep away flies.
The origin of our basil leaf extract
We source the basil for our organic basil leaf extract from Hungary. Hungary ranks as one of the main exporting countries alongside Albania and Egypt. Our suppliers, who cultivate the aromatic plant in accordance with EU organic guidelines, have the best climatic conditions. That ensures strong, healthy plants with a distinctive aroma and a high yield. Basil originally comes from the tropics of Asia and Africa. It was already being cultivated in the Indian subcontinent around 1000 BCE and there are also finds in the pyramids of Egypt that give proof to its cultivation in antiquity. However, the plant is now cultivated all over the world. The plant probably came to Germany in the 12th century. Basil lends flavor to our BERTRAND liquid meals, but is above all a good source of vitamins.
How is basil leaf extract produced?
There are many types of common basil — Greek basil and red basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, anise and cinnamon basil, Neapolitan basil and numerous other varieties. Tulsi or holy basil, which is a separate species (Ocimum tenuiflorum) and differs in terms of its components, does not belong to the category of common basil. Tulsi is known in India as “holy basil” and is used as a remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. For the BERTRAND liquid meals, we use common basil.
SUNNY AND WIND PROTECTED
Basil grows in our regions as an annual, herbaceous plant with a height of 20 to 60 centimeters. Sowing occurs between March and April, the blooming period is between June and September. Basil requires a sunny and warm location protected from the wind. The soil should be permeable and rich in nutrients, and if possible, never dry out completely. That means that basil crops need quite a lot of water in the summer months. Waterlogging must be avoided at the same time, otherwise root rot or fungal infections will develop. All in all, basil is a rather high maintenance herb.
FRESH SEVERAL TIMES A YEAR
Basil can be harvested at any time, as well as several times per year, as soon as it has reached a certain size. This is usually the case starting in May and can continue into late autumn. The herb has the most intense aroma shortly before blooming. Special machines are used for the harvest which cut the herb and transport it into boxes or sacks via conveyor belts.
For our BERTRAND liquid meals, we require an extract from the basil leaf. The term extract stands for “extraction” (from Latin: extrahere = to pull out). The process used for this is called extraction. In our particular case, it is about obtaining a dry extract, since we need the powdered preparation for our products. A dry extract, known pharmaceutically as “extractrum siccum”, has a firm consistency and can be incorporated into tablets, capsules, etc. — or as a powder such as in our liquid meals. During production, a solvent is used (e.g. water), which is then re-evaporated. A solid residue remains.
WE WANT THE FLOUR
DRYING AND GRINDING
After the extraction, the remaining mass of the starting product, in this case the basil leaves, is fed to a further drying process. Here it is important that the basil used is highly aromatic, since some of the aroma and flavor components are lost during drying. Dry extracts may have a residual moisture of no more than 5 percent. The so-called “drug extract ratio” (DER) is usually 5-10:1. In our case that would mean: 100 grams of basil leaves used for 5 to 10 grams of dry extract. The dried product is then finely ground before it is used in the BERTRAND liquid meals.
For our BERTRAND drinkable meals, we use organic basil leaf extract mainly due to its high levels of B group vitamins. Basil contains all known B vitamins. It is our goal to integrate all vitamins, minerals and trace elements in our liquid meals in quantities that readily reach or even slightly exceed the recommended daily minimums. Basil makes a valuable contribution to this overall, but especially in regard to the B vitamins. The so-called vitamin B complex includes eight B vitamins. Those are vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid/folate) and B12 (cobalamin). All B vitamins are water-soluble, which means that they cannot easily be stored. They must therefore be supplied regularly, preferably daily, through food. All B vitamins are involved in numerous metabolic processes. Energy production and storage, protein, fat and amino acid metabolism, the effect of certain hormones, the formation of messenger substances, nerve metabolism and signal transmission, blood formation, cell division, transmission of genetic information and immune system support — all of these are areas in which the various B vitamins play an important, sometimes central, role. Just as varied as their functions, the symptoms of a deficiency in one or the other B vitamin can also be numerous. Those who pursue strenuous sports with muscle building, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, have an increased need for vitamin B. In addition to vitamin B, the basil leaf extract contains vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as a considerable amount of the minerals magnesium, potassium and calcium. But the secondary plant compounds play an important role as well: Basil is rich in essential oils. In particular, the eugenol fragrance should be mentioned, which smells intensely of cloves. Eugenol is known from dentistry, where it is valued for relieving pain and being anti-inflammatory. The terpene alcohol linalool, also contained in the essential oil of basil, is an intermediate product in the synthesis of vitamin E. Overall, the components of the herb influence and reinforce each other, which is known as the “synergy effect”. Basil is a very sensitive herb and the components are quickly lost when cooked. Our organic basil leaf extract preserves the valuable nutrients and even condensed them. The result: The nutrient density in the extract is increased.
- Image of the field at the top of the page: Iakov Filimonov via Shutterstock
- Map of Europe: teka12 via Shutterstock
- Post image, Green leaf on white background: AmyLv via Shutterstock