Sweet basil typically refers to the variety of basil used in Western and Mediterranean cuisines.
Thai basil is used in Thai cuisine. It tastes more like mint or anise than basil, so it is not interchangeable with Italian basil.
Holy basil (or krapow) is also used in Thai cooking, and has a distinctive, hot flavor, quite different from both regular basil and Thai basil. See Holy basil.
Lemon basil is used in Indonesian cooking, eaten raw (often along with with raw vegetables: cabbage, cucumber and long beans) as an accompaniment to fried fish or duck.
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Summer is basil season. In September (northern hemisphere) the plant will flower, indicating the end of its season. Basil will not survive frost, and thrives on sunlight, but many people manage to grow or keep basil inside during the winter months.
Basil is best used fresh and can usually be bought either as a potted plant, or harvested leaves. The leaves on the potted plant will remain fresh provided the plant itself is well cared for. Harvested leaves will keep only for 1 or 2 days and are best used on the day of purchase, or frozen. The leaves can then be used from frozen in recipes. Basil can also be bought dried and stored in a jar, which is best kept in a cool dark place.
Chopping basil is an inefficient way to release the flavors from its cellular structure. To maximize flavor from chopped Basil, first place it in a ziploc bag, and then pound it with the flat of cleaver or a meat tenderizer. Pound until the leaves appear wet, and then proceed to chopping.