Fresh herbs deliver amazing flavor to our meals. But it’s no fun to reach for that parsley or cilantro you purchased a few days ago and find a bag of slimy green mush.
We have a few tips for the best way to store your herbs so you can enjoy them instead of throwing them out.
Tender herbs vs. hardy herbs
First, there are two basic types of herbs: tender and hardy. They should be stored differently for best results.
Examples of tender herbs are basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, dill—they all have tender stems. Hardy herbs have thicker, stick-like stems, such as thyme, rosemary or sage.
Wash your herbs
Whether tender or hardy, experts recommend washing herbs before storing them because any dirt or bacteria on them will encourage the decaying process.
Rinse them in cold water and then dry them as much as possible with a salad spinner, pillow case or by gently blotting with a paper towel.
Short-term refrigerator storage
For tender herbs, if you know you’ll use them within a few weeks, clip the bottom of the stems, remove any dead leaves and put them in water—like flowers—in the fridge.
Keep any leaves out of the water and change it every few days.
For hardy herbs, wrap them in a damp paper towel, seal in plastic wrap or airtight container, and keep them in the fridge.
Long-term freezer storage
If you’ve used what you needed for your recipe and don’t see using any more in the near future, one way to save their flavor by making “herb cubes.”
Chop the herbs and put them in ice cube trays. Fill each cube with water or oil. Or use a blender to puree the herbs with water or oil and pour into a tray. Once frozen, pop the herb cubes into a resealable bag, label it, and they’re handy for adding extra flavor to future recipes.
For hardy herbs, you can use the same damp paper towel sealed in plastic or a container and put it in the freezer. The thick stems make it easy to separate the leaves for use, even when frozen.
Drying herbs at home
You can also try drying your leftover herbs—either naturally or by using the oven. To go the natural route, you need string, small paper bags and a warm, ventilated room.
Tie several herb stems together in a bundle and lower them into a paper bag with the stems up. Seal the top of the bag, securing the stems, and poke some holes in the sides and bottom. Hang the bag, stems up, in a warm room. They are done when the herbs are brittle to the touch.
To use an oven, preheat it to the lowest setting—under 180F degrees. Spread herb leaves on a cookie sheet and bake for 2-4 hours until the leaves are brittle.
Now you have no excuse to ever throw away herbs again. Want more tips or recipes for healthy, nutritious living? Check out some other blogs at Amway Connections.