Yes, you can un-wilt herbs—sometimes. Here's what you need to know.
If you've ever tried to store basil at room temperature, with trimmed ends dangling into water like flowers, like everyone tells you to do, then you know it's all lies.
What could go wrong?
If you want to hold onto your basil for more than a few hours, this is an unwise way to go.
A few hours later—tragedy! Moisture loss!
Whether you do this or not, you will encounter wilty herbs sometime—I discovered their salvation quite by accident, no thanks to them. I was testing recipes in my stifling 6th floor apartment and the basil I'd propped up in water had all but gone to heaven. But at one point, I noticed that some of the leaves had fallen into the water itself, and looked bright and perky, like they'd just come back from a spa day.
Since then, anytime I have herbs that are looking deflated, I put them in a bowl of water, forget about them for a while, then come back and they're like new.
Based on the results of my unscientific testing, here's what I can tell you:
That said, my testing is incomplete, and largely done in a very humid New York City summer, so I want to know what you've witnessed in the wide world of wilting herbs—please tell all in the comments.
At least if all else fails, there's always Paula Wolfert's Herb Jam.
Top pretty photo by James Ransom; all others by Kristen Miglore