Kitchen Confidence

The Best Ways to Store Fresh Herbs

By • January 23, 2014 • 13 Comments

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: A lesson on keeping your fresh herbs fresh.

Fresh herbs from Food52

There are few things as inspiring as a beautiful bunch of fresh herbs. We love you, salt and pepper, but only fresh herbs have the special power to transform a dish with nothing more than a few small leaves.

It’s fun to buy beautiful bouquets of fresh parsley, sage, and thyme on your Sunday market trip and envision all of the beautiful meals you will make in the coming week. (It’s even better when you can buy them at the farmers market and impulse-buy a cider donut or kettle corn). 

But what happens by the time Thursday rolls around, and those perky green herbs have turned wilted and swampy in the fridge, just when you were about to whip up a batch of pesto?

Say goodbye to dull, limp herbs. Here’s how to keep your fresh herbs fresh all week long.

Fresh herbs from Food52

First, sort your herbs.

Herbs fall into two categories: hard and soft. Soft herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and tarragon have soft, tender stems. Hard herbs have woody stems, and include rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and thyme.

Read more: How to dry your herbs.

Next, store them properly.

Fresh herbs from Food52

Now that you’ve organized your fresh herbs, store them so they last.

Soft herbs like to be treated as you would a bouquet of flowers. Snip the base of the stems and put them in a glass of fresh water, changing out the water every day or two if it starts to cloud. Basil should be kept at room temperature, but a glass filled with other soft herbs should go in the fridge, loosely covered with a plastic bag.

Read more: How to preserve fresh herbs.

Store your hard herbs by wrapping them first in a damp paper towel, then loosely in plastic wrap, and keeping them in your crisper. (If you’re going green, a damp kitchen towel and airtight container works perfectly well.)

Fresh herbs from Food52 Fresh herbs from Food52

A final tip: Don’t wash fresh herbs until they are ready to be used; it will add excess moisture and waste time.  

What are your tips for keeping herbs fresh? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Tags: herbs, storage, how to store fresh herbs, how-to & diy

Comments (13)

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3 months ago timbrel2

I always try keeping basil at room temperature. In 3 days I have a limp, unattractive and unusable bunch. I'm going to do anything else but that next time. Herbs are too expensive to waste

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4 months ago Gret

I ALWAYS wash my herbs, because I'm not going to put dirt into fridge! The basil, I put stems or roots into water & lightly cover with plastic in fridge.The other herbs, I do as la greca,5 below.

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4 months ago Kerry James

Should the basil still be covered loosely with a plastic, in a glass of water out of the fridge?

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5 months ago The Queen Of Dreaming

Great, great advice!! :)

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6 months ago Robert

I don't understand the tip that says don't wash herbs until you are ready to use them because it will add water and waste time. I wash them and store them as soon as they come home (or in from the garden) Then they are clean and dry when I want to use them. No washing or drying needed!

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6 months ago Shamika Thomas-Ellis

OMG! You have no idea how much this has helped as I stopped buying fresh herbs as they were dying too fast. Now I know what to do, thank you! :)

Stringio

6 months ago la greca

I wrap parsley and dill in dry paper towel and put them in a plastic bag - the one I used to buy them - and put them in the fridge. Still fresh 3 weeks later. I leave rosemary and thyme dry in a glass on the counter - they dry naturally and can also be used for ages. Ahhh basil - I can only love you within a few days.

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6 months ago Grace

Parsley is the worst for me! It seems to be wilted before I even get it home from the store!!

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6 months ago Pat in SoCal

I love parsley! I wash it, shake it dry, snip the ends and put it in a vase behind my sink. That way it's front and center for easy and frequent use. It easily lasts a week without refridgeration. I do the same with dill. It lasts even longer and both are perfect kitchen bouquets next to my potted basil.

Stringio

6 months ago Jennifer Hamlin

I just add them to my salad spinner and they stay fresh for weeks!

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6 months ago Gret

In our supermarket the herbs are in small plastic containers. I usually keep them in this container, but should I be taking them out?

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6 months ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

I've followed this method and it's worked very well. Always have trouble w/basil though. The plastic bags you can usually buy in the markets produce section - the ones that absorb gases emitted by the plant matter seem to extend the freshness factor well past a week...again, except for that damn basil.

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6 months ago Kristin Hogan

I, too, separate my hard and soft herbs {as you describe above} and then I place each bunch into a small mason or Weck glass jar with about a 1/2 inch of water at the bottom. Finally, I place a plastic bag {usually the one the herbs were brought home in from the store or farmers market} loosely over each bunch and store in the refrigerator. The herbs, especially the soft leafy ones such as parsley + cilantro, stay incredibly fresh for weeks.