Did you come home from the grocers with a bumper crop of herbs? Greens always taste the best when they’re fresh. They add more potent flavor to all your family’s meals and even offer several health benefits.
How can you keep your crop from turning to mush before you have a chance to use it? After all, you can only use so much oregano or basil at once. Depending on the type of herbs you’ve purchased, consider one of the following options.
1. Determine the Type of Herb
Before you can properly store fresh herbs, you’ll first need to determine whether they’re tender or hardy, which you can easily do by looking at and feeling the stem.
Many varieties of herbs that grow in the Mediterranean, for example, have hardy woody stems that help them retain limited moisture. Sticking such herbs in water is a sure way to turn them into green slime. Instead, store these types in the refrigerator.
Conversely, you can treat herbs with fragile, tender stems in much the same way you would a fresh bouquet. Change the water these plants occupy daily. Merely topping off the used portion allows bacteria to proliferate, which will decay your herbs more quickly.
2. Select a Method
Now that you’ve identified the type of herbs you’re working with, it’s time to stow them away safely. You have three basic options for storage, which will keep your stash fresh for approximately two to three weeks.
- In a vase: Did you buy a bunch of basil? This herb is unique in that it cannot stand cold temperatures. Putting basil in your fridge is a surefire way to end up with brown leaves and soft stems. Instead, trim the stems the way you would a bouquet. Place the cut branches in a vase and cover it loosely with a plastic bag, leaving ample breathing room. Then, place the vessel out of direct sunlight on your counter. While you won’t win any decorating awards, you will extend the life of your herb for a week.
- In a jar inside the fridge: Most tender herbs like dill and mint stay freshest in a jar inside the refrigerator. You’ll prepare them similarly to the way you do basil. The difference? The addition of cold temperatures kills bacteria, extending the life for more than one week. Certain varieties such as dill offer a host of benefits like treating gastrointestinal disorders and lack of appetite. The fresher they are, the more effectively they perform.
- In a sealable bag with damp paper towels: Hardy herbs like rosemary and marjoram will decay more quickly if you place their woody stems directly in water. Instead, store hardy herbs by enveloping them in a damp paper towel and wrapping it with plastic. Then, place the items in your crisper drawer, perhaps using a liner designed to kill bacteria and extend storage life.
3. Spice Up Your Life
Now that you’ve stored your fresh herbs, it’s time for the fun part — cooking with them! Whip up a batch of pasta with five fresh herbs — your family will adore the recipe so much, they won’t notice how healthy it is for them.
You can add a few basil leaves to soups and stews, especially those including tons of sugar or white flour ingredients. Research indicates basil helps to balance your blood sugar, which is useful in preventing the crash that can follow a starchy meal.
Store Your Fresh Herbs Well to Extend Their Life
When you store your herbs properly, you extend their usefulness. Add some flavor to your life today with these tips!