There’s no better way to brighten up a meal than with fresh herbs. But unless you have the time to run to the store every day or keep a garden, it can be hard to keep herbs fresh. Most people never learn the difference between tender herbs and hard herbs, or how to wash them. Use these tips and tricks on how to store fresh herbs to always have fresh herbs at your fingertips!
How to Wash and Dry Fresh Herbs
It’s important to wash and dry fresh herbs before storing them. Washing your herbs helps remove any bacteria (or critters!) that may eat away at your leaves. You also want to avoid any excess moisture on the leaves of the herbs when storing them to prevent rot. Be sure to begin by selecting fresh ingredients at the store, so you know you’re starting off with fresh herbs.
The best way to wash fresh herbs is to first remove any packaging, debris, and wilted leaves. Then, run the herbs under cold water. Be sure all leaves get a good splash! If you are working with very delicate herbs, you may want to rinse them in a bowl of water instead of under the sink to avoid damaging the leaves.
Once you have rinsed the herbs, you must dry the leaves. For heartier herbs with strong stems, you can spin them in a salad spinner to dry. For other herbs, dry them by first shaking them off over the sink, then pat the leaves dry with a paper towel.
Now you are almost ready to store your fresh herbs.
Tender Herbs Verus Hard Herbs
Understanding how a plant grows can help you better replicate its natural environment. To figure out how to best store fresh herbs, you first must know whether an herb is tender or hard. You can determine if an herb is tender or hard by looking at and feeling the plant.
What Are Tender Herbs?
Tender herbs are plants that have soft stems and leaves. These herbs will feel limp in your hand, and can easily bend without snapping.
Common examples of tender herbs include:
What Are Hard Herbs?
Hard herbs have a woodier stem. If you were to try to bend a hard herb, it would likely snap.
Common hard herbs include:
● bay leaves
How to Store Tender Herbs
Tender herbs like basil, mint, and parsley are soft plants that you typically add fresh at the end of a recipe. They enjoy a more moist environment and are more resistant to rotting. Follow these steps on how to store fresh herbs.
Step 1: Trim the stems
Like when you get a bouquet of fresh flowers, you should first trim the stems of tender herbs. This will help them absorb water to maintain freshness.
Step 2: Place herbs in a cup of water
After trimming the stems, place your tender herbs in a cup or mason jar filled about one inch high with water.
Step 3: Cover the cup (optional)
To help retain moisture, herbs like cilantro and parsley benefit from extra protection. Use a small plastic bag to loosely cover the top of the leaves and cup to help lock in moisture. Or, you can also buy a reusable glass herb keeper for a more sustainable way to keep tender herbs fresh longer.
Step 4: Store in the fridge or on the counter
For most herbs, you’ll want to store the entire cup in your fridge. For basil, store the cup of herbs on your counter, instead. If you have a bright window sill where the plant can continue to soak in some light, even better! Be sure to avoid direct sun rays, which will harm the plant.
Step 5: Change the water regularly
Be sure to change the water as needed to keep tender herbs fresh. Change the water every couple of days, or when you notice the water gets dirty.
How to Store Hard Herbs
Hard herbs prefer not to have their feet wet, so do not place herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme in a cup of water. Instead, follow these steps to keep hard herbs fresh.
Step 1: Roll in a damp towel
First, slightly dampen a paper towel and lay the hard herbs across the towel in one layer. It’s okay if the tops of the leaves stick out, but be sure the ends of the stems are on the towel. Then, roll the herbs loosely in the towel.
Step 2: Seal in bag
Place your herb rollups in a resealable plastic storage bag. To save space and reduce plastic use, you can use one larger bag and place all your hard herbs together. Or, for an even more environmentally friendly option, purchase a reusable fridge storage bag.
Step 3: Store in the fridge
Finally, place all your herbs in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy fresh!
How Long Can You Store Herbs?
Using these methods, herbs can typically be stored and kept fresh for much longer than you may expect. This helps reduce food waste and saves you from having to keep buying the same herbs all over again when they go bad.
Most tender herbs can typically be stored for up to two weeks with these methods. Some, like parsley or cilantro, may last up to three weeks. Just remember to change their water!
Hard herbs will vary in how long they can be kept fresh in storage. Thyme, sage, and oregano will probably last about two weeks with these methods. Rosemary may last three weeks if stored correctly in the fridge.
Now You Know How to Keep Your Herbs Garden-Fresh
With these easy steps, you can keep your herbs fresh for weeks to save yourself time and money. If you want to eat fresh, delicious meals every day without the hassle, try Gobble. Gobble delivers fresh meals prepared for you by chefs. With our Lean & Clean plan, you can enjoy healthy meals made for any diet ready in only 15 minutes!