You Can Make Fresh Herbs Last Longer
Tips for storing, drying, and freezing your favorite fresh herbs
Fresh herbs are amongst the most important ingredients in the kitchen. Where would cucumber salad be without dill, pizza bufalina without basil, or tabbouleh without parsley and mint? Whether freshly chopped or simply dried–herbs are full of flavors you just can’t replicate and should always be on hand.
But all too often, the once fresh and perky herbs lose their bright-green glory within days of buying, and you have to resort to yellowing parsley and wilted basil. To keep history from repeating itself and avoid using sad herbs, we’ll show you how to properly store, dry, and freeze them to extend their lives!
How to properly store herbs
First and foremost, you should always discard any wilted and yellow leaves, regardless whether the herbs are with or without roots. With an herb bundle, it’s always useful to cut off the end of the stems. Once that’s done, wash and dry them thoroughly with a salad spinner or paper towels.
To store your herbs properly, you should first distinguish between soft and hard herbs:
Soft and more delicate herbs, such as parsley, coriander, dill, and mint, should be stored in a glass with 2 – 3 cm (1 in) of water and placed in the fridge. If the glass is tall enough, you can cover it with plastic wrap or a small plastic bag and seal it with a rubber band. This will ensure that the herbs stay moist and won’t be exposed to shifting fridge temperatures. This method will keep herbs fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Pro tip: Don’t store your herbs in the back of the fridge where the temperature is often lower, as this could actually freeze the herbs.
You can recognize hard and more steadfast herbs by their wooden branches. Amongst these are rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, and oregano. Hard herbs often come from warmer climates and therefore don’t require a lot of water. Instead of placing the herbs in water, you should wrap the stems in a damp kitchen towel, place in a plastic container or wrap in plastic wrap, and then store in the fridge. The damp paper towel ensures that the herbs won’t dry out and will keep them fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Special case basil: Basil is the exception to the rule, as it doesn’t tolerate colder temperatures and should therefore never be stored in the fridge. Instead, store basil in a glass with a little water at room temperature.
What about packaged herbs? In general, we recommend that you always seek to buy your herbs in bunches, as these are generally fresher, more sustainable, and often cheaper. However, if you opted for pre-packaged herbs, you should remove them from the packaging, wash, dry, and store them as explained above directly after purchasing, otherwise, they will wither significantly faster.
What about herb pots? Delicate herbs in a pot should be stored in a bright place, but not be exposed to direct sunlight or drafts as they will turn yellow quickly. It’s best to water them lightly each day with a spray bottle, to avoid dampening the soil too much and overwatering the plant.
Pro tip: With basil, make sure you pick whole shoots, instead of plucking single leaves. And for ever popular parsley, it’s a good idea to replant it in a bigger pot, as it actually needs more space than the small plastic container from the supermarket. After repotting, you’ll be able to enjoy it for several weeks at least.
If you want to make your herbs last even longer, drying them—either in the oven or simply by air—is well worth it! You can spread the leaves onto a baking sheet and let them dry at 100°C for 2 – 3 hours in the oven. Then transfer them to an airtight container and store for up to a year.
Air drying herbs is not only a great way to preserve them, but also makes for beautiful kitchen decoration! Simply tie the stems together with kitchen twine and hang in a dry place for approx. 2 – 4 weeks.
Our how-to shows you exactly what to do:
Freeze your kitchen herbs
Herbs such as parsley, mint, cilantro, and thyme are ideal for freezing. All you have to do is chop them, add them to an ice cube mold, fill with broth or water, and off they go. Frozen this way, your herbs will last between 3 and 6 months and can be used for soups, stews, pasta sauces, teas, or soft drinks.
Growing herbs at home
Instead of repeatedly buying fresh herbs at the supermarket, why not effortlessly harvest them from your own windowsill? It’s easy to plant your own kitchen garden, and our stories can show you how to do it.
Do you have any tips for making your store-bought herbs last longer? Share your experiences and tricks with our community in a comment!
Published on June 16, 2018