Basil does not grow as well in Alaska as do many other herbs, but I still manage to get a number of varieties each year. Why? Basil likes relatively dry, hot conditions, and Interior Alaska just doesn’t supply that, though the Fairbanks area is probably the best in Alaska.

In general the Thai basils are not my favorites—I just don’t care for the licorice taste. But most basils go very well with tomatoes and Italian dishes. Now that the first local tomatoes are showing up at the Farmers’ Market, my usual lunch of cottage cheese and fruit will change to cottage cheese and tomatoes, with basil, chives, dill, and parsley mixed into the cheese. Another use for basil will be when the zucchini is ready to pick. And, of course, basil is widely used in pesto.

Here are some of the basils I’m trying this year, along with a few I photographed at Basically Basil, which has a regular stall at the Farmers’ Market where they sell plants, herbal vinegars, and seasoning mixes.