A sprinkle of fresh herbs can take a dish from good to great. Here’s how to keep them fresh for as long as you can after buying them from the supermarket.
Imagine living in a world where pesto is cooked without basil or a glass of mojito is served without mint. It’s definitely not a world we want to live in. Whether they’re served as the finishing touches to a dish or used to enhance its taste, everyone can agree that no meal is complete without fresh herbs.
But keeping your herbs fresh poses a new challenge. Most herbs have a short shelf life and tend to turn brown after just a couple of days. External factors like moisture, oxygen, temperature, bacteria, and lighting can also make your herbs wilt, look limp, and dry out.
Thankfully, these problems can be easily solved. It’s only a matter of understanding the type of herbs you’re dealing with and finding out the best storage methods to keep them fresh.
Is it hardy or tender?
First, you need to differentiate whether the herb you have in hand is tender or hardy. Tender herbs have softer stems and are usually used as a garnish to preserve their smell and colour. On the other hand, there are hardy herbs that can withstand long cooking times. These herbs tend to give out a strong, fragrant aroma to a dish through extended cooking. Take a look at the table below to find out which herbs fall into those categories:
Treat basil like cut flowers
Surprised that you didn’t see the name basil in the list above? You’re not alone. When it comes to herbs, basil has to be treated a little differently from those two groups. But worry not as basil is one of the easiest herbs to store. Just treat it like the bouquet you received. Here’s how:
Step 1: Trim the stems.
Step 2: Place it in a jar of water.
Step 3: Cover the leaves with an overturned plastic bag to create a “greenhouse environment”.
That’s it! No more settling for less-than-stellar basil in your cooking.
Tip: Basil thrives at room temperature, so don’t toss it into the fridge like the other herbs, or it will wilt quickly.
Store parsley, cilantro, dill and mint in a jar with half-filled water
Similar to how you would store basil, start by chopping off an inch of the stems before rinsing them with cold water (or use a salad spinner if you have one). Dry the herbs on a clean towel. Then, move them to a jar with half-filled water. Cover your herbs with an overturned plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator.
Keep rosemary, thyme, sage and chives in refrigerator
Unlike the aforementioned herbs, you need to handle hardy herbs a little differently. First, arrange them lengthwise on a paper towel. Then, wrap them up and keep them in a plastic bag or a container. Pop it in the refrigerator and you’re set. Remember to wash them before use.