With summer just around the corner, fresh herbs are slowly taking over the grocery stores, farmer’s markets and our own gardens. Fresh herbs can enhance any meal, transforming a humble plate of pasta into a gourmet dish. Alas, it’s not always easy to keep your herbs fresh and we’ve all had that moment of finding they’ve turned into gross green slime before we’ve even used them. No one enjoys wasting food, especially not something so tasty.
“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac
Parsley, basil, cilantro and non-leafy herbs (like chives, dill, thyme and rosemary) have slightly different needs when it comes to getting the most out them. Both types do have a few things in common, however.
Before you store either type of herb, there are two things you should do. First, gently wash (and then dry) them in order to rinse away surface debris and bacteria. This will help keep them fresh for longer. Second, remember that herbs are not polar bears (shocking, we know) and they don’t do well when they’re too cold so, leafy or not, when storing them in the refrigerator, try to put them in the front where the temperatures are warmer. This also has the advantage of keeping them in sight so that you actually remember to use them.
Leafy, tender herbs…
For leafy, tender herbs, you’re basically going to treat them like a bouquet of flowers. Start by trimming the ends and then place the herbs into a jar with a small amount of cool water (try to change the water periodically for maximum freshness), cover the herb bouquet loosely with an upturned plastic bag (which will help them to retain moisture), pop the lot into the fridge and you’re good to go. Remember: basil is an exception to this because it doesn’t like the cold at all! So, once you’ve trimmed the ends and put them in water, leave the bouquet out on the counter, but not in direct sunlight, and skip the plastic bag step.
For non-leafy herbs…
For non-leafy herbs, the first step (after rinsing and drying them out) is to wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel. Place the bundle in a re-sealable plastic bag or container and put it in the fridge.
Sometimes, you just have too many herbs to use during the growing season. You can preserve them for even longer by chopping them up, placing them into an ice cube tray, topping off each well with a little oil (we recommend olive oil) and placing them into the freezer. These frozen herb cubes can then easily be popped out, reheated and added to your meals for a pop of fresh tasting herbs, even in the dead of winter.
“Herb”ivores Are Healthy
Herbs provideand while these benefits vary slightly depending on the herb, they all share certain wonderful qualities like being good sources of B-vitamins, containing antioxidants and having anti-viral properties. That’s right! Not only do they taste amazing, they’re good for you, too. Hard to beat that!