How to keep herbs fresh for longer

Having fresh herbs on hand to brighten up a dish can be a real game changer—but sometimes we don’t get through the parsley or basil as quickly as we’d like. What are your favorite tricks for keeping herbs fresh for longer? Tell us in the comments below!

Emily Kochman


AntoniaJames June 20, 2021
I've been using Rubbermaid boxes with the tight red lids for years. They work great.

Some people have "vegetable drawers" in their fridges. I have an "herbs and aromatics" drawer in mine. Apart from the scallions, ginger root, and lemons/limes that reside there, it is full of boxes - larger flat boxes for parsley and cilantro and smaller ones for the various fresh herbs I grow in our community gardens (a quick bike ride away) or that I buy at the store in the winter. All of the boxes are labeled.

The key is to unbundle bunches immediately, pull out any crushed or otherwise less than perfect leaves, separate the stems to let them dry out a bit, and then put the herbs in the boxes, loosely, with a piece of paper towel on the bottom of the box and to separate layers.

Herbs last for at least a week with this system - typically much longer, I expect, though I generally use any cut herbs within a week. I NEVER wash before storing. I live in the high desert, so herbs that are wet coming in from the market dry quickly.

Seriously, though, the best way to keep herbs from going bad is to use them right away. Why on earth wouldn't you? Fresh herbs make just about anything you put them in so much better. If something comes up and I know I won't be using a fresh herb before it's past its peak, I pop it into the freezer to use in stock.

And let's not forget that the stems are useful, too. Often, the stems have plenty of flavor even after the leaves look too tired to use. I wrote a piece on this topic for Food52 about 6 years ago:

At the end of the article you'll find links to collections of recipes, sorted by category, that could include herb stems, if you chose to use them.

I hope this helps!

Emily K. June 23, 2021
Thanks so much for sharing this thoughtful advice, AntoniaJames! We totally agree—if you can, use them right away, and don't forget about the stems!
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