A bright bunch of fragrant herbs is so exciting to bring home. You know you’re in for some serious flavor, whether they’re sprinkled over potatoes, paired with citrus on roast turkey breast, or stirred into dip. These are my favorite tips to keep those delicate herbs fresh for as long as possible.
Wash Them First
Whether from the market or your garden, you’ll use herbs more quickly if they are clean and ready to go come cooking time. Gently wash herbs in cold water to remove pests and dirt, taking care not to bruise the leaves. Shake off the excess water, then blot them dry with paper towels.
Store Them Right
Depending on the herb, you have a couple of choices:
- In the fridge: After washing and trimming the herbs, place them in a glass of water, cover the top with a plastic bag, cinch it at the bottom, and store the glass in the refrigerator. Or, you could skip the glass. Lay a few sprigs on a dry paper towel, place another towel on top, and continue layering. Slide the layered towels and herbs into a resealable plastic bag, close it, and store it in the fridge. The towels absorb excess water while air in the bag stays moist. (Keep in mind, fresh basil is best stored at room temperature; it doesn’t keep well in the cold.)
- On the counter: You can store fresh herbs in water as you would fresh flowers: Remove bands or twist ties, trim the stems, and remove leaves close to the ends. Place herbs in a glass of water, then cover the top loosely with a plastic bag. This will keep in moisture so the leaves won’t dry out. Keep the glass on the counter out of direct sunlight.
Don’t Forget About Them
Check your fresh herbs each day and remove leaves that have yellowed or are darkening. Change the water in the glass daily for herbs stored at room temperature, and every other day for herbs stored in the refrigerator. Hardy herbs like parsley, rosemary, and thyme can last up to two weeks stored in the fridge, and more delicate herbs like cilantro, dill and mint will last about one week. On the counter, they’ll be good for seven to 10 days.
Most importantly, enjoy them! Make a batch of savory Rosemary Cheddar Muffins, pluck some fresh parsley in Mom’s Swedish Meatballs, or use stems from herbs to add flavor to soups like Dilled Potato-Leek Soup. Fix yourself an Iced Melon Moroccan Mint Tea, then kick back and think about what you’ll make next.
Freelance writer Nancy Mock is a Taste of Home Field Editor and the blogger behind Hungry Enough to Eat Six.