Not sure how to store fresh herbs to keep them in tip-top shape for as long as possible? Help is here.
Fresh herbs can dry out, lose their flavor, and become slimy without proper storage. When they start losing their appeal, they typically go in one place: the trash. When food waste gets sent to the landfill instead of being eaten or composted, it struggles to biodegrade properly. Instead, it releases harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
Composting at home using your kitchen counter compost bin is a great way to reduce food waste. However, we want to prevent letting our food go bad to begin with. If you notice your herbs aren’t lasting very long, there are a few ways you can keep them fresh.
Here’s how to store fresh herbs, as well as tips and tricks for making them last longer. Whether you’re working with basil and mint or rosemary and thyme, there’s a hack for every herb.
How to Store Fresh Herbs and Make Them Last
1. Wash and Dry Herbs Thoroughly
Just like how you wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, you should also wash your herbs to get rid of bacteria. Doing so will make them last longer, as bacteria and dirt can decrease their life span.
2. Remove Excess Moisture
Once you’re done washing your herbs, it’s vital to remove as much moisture as possible. To do this, you can use leftover napkins from takeout orders or reusable clean cotton cloths. There’s no need to create paper waste to dry your freshly-washed herbs. You can also use a salad spinner to quickly remove excess water.
3. Remove Wilted Leaves
You may notice brown or wilted leaves, or brown stems, on your herbs. If this occurs, remove the wilted leaves and cut off the browned stems. This will revive your herbs and keep them fresh longer.
4. Know How to Store Tender and Hardy Herbs
Different herbs may require different care. Before deciding how to store fresh herbs, you have to categorize them.
Tender herbs have soft stems. This group includes herbs like cilantro, parsley, basil, dill, and mint.
Place tender herbs upright in a reusable container, such as a Mason jar. In the container, be sure to add about an inch of water. If your jar has a lid, you can cover the herbs. Store them in the refrigerator and change the water every few days to keep the herbs fresh. You can use the old water to water your houseplants.
Hardy herbs have woodier stems. This group includes herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano.
These herbs should be wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a reusable bag or airtight container to keep oxygen out. They can also be frozen and stored in a reusable freezer bag.
5. Make ‘Ice Cubes’ When Needed
If you can’t finish fresh herbs in time, freeze them for later. You can make herb ice cubes by simply chopping the herbs and placing them in an ice tray. Then add olive oil.
You can freeze the cubes and use them for recipes that require chopped herbs. And the best part is that the herbs will last longer than just two or three weeks. They’ll also taste fresh, despite using them months later.
After the ice cubes are completely frozen, transfer them to an airtight container and leave them in the freezer. They’ll stay fresh and ready to use for up to one year.
A Reminder: Only Buy What You Need
Many of us are guilty of buying groceries in bulk to prevent constant trips to the grocery store. However, a great way to reduce food waste is to only buy what you need.
Only buy fresh herbs when you know you’re going to use them. That way you can be sure the herbs you’re cooking with are fresh, and none of them will go to waste.
You can even choose to buy dry herbs. Cooking with dry herbs requires fewer herbs, as one tablespoon of fresh herbs is equivalent to one teaspoon of dry herbs. Dried herbs have a stronger taste and have a longer shelf life.
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