Basil is best picked or purchased fresh and used within a few days. To refrigerate first wrap whole stalks and leaves in slightly dampened paper towels, place in a plastic bag, and store for 4 days. Another storage method is to place a "bunch" of basil stems down, in a glass of water. You can also place a plastic bag over the leaves and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Basil stored in this manor will benefit from a water change every couple of days. You can also place basil in a blender with a small amount of oil, blend, and store in ice cube trays.
Basil is one of the least successful herbs when dried. The dried product loses most of it's flavor. Better methods of preserving basil include storage in olive oil or even honey.
Basil is used abundantly in both cooked dishes, raw in small amounts as well as for garnish. Recipes may specify a specific type of basil and if possible it is worth the effort to find the proper type.
If your recipe calls for Thai or Asian basil you can substitute with the common Mediterranean variety with similar but not the exact taste results. If you want an entirely different flavor substitute mint.
Basil - pronounced [BAY-zihl] (botanical name - Ocimum basilicum) an aromatic herb is native to India, SE Asia, and NE Africa and is an important herb used in Italian and Thai cooking (and less significantly in other cusines). Basil is "the" key ingredient in pesto.