As you know, fresh herbs are a great way to add extra flavor, color and aroma to your cooking. But one huge downside is that fresh herbs don’t last very long. If you are only cooking a few times a week, then chances are most of your herbs are probably going to go bad before you even get a chance to use them. Not only is it annoying and expensive to be throwing all those herbs away, but it’s also not great for the environment. We already throw away about 40% of the food produced in this country, and when organic matter like this goes to landfill it releases methane as it breaks down, which in turn contributes to global warming. The UN suggests that if food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world. Regardless of how accurate that figure is, it is shocking and should motivate all of us to do our part to conserve food waste.
The Best Ways to Store Fresh Herbs
There are a few techniques we have tested in the past that can be used to store herbs. We’ll break down each one and you can decide which works best for you!
Technique 1: also known as “the lazy person’s technique.”
It involves keeping the fresh herbs in their original packaging and simply storing them in the fridge. However, when you store anything in the fridge, the gases, droplets from moisture, and air inside will get in contact with the leaves. This may not sound like an issue, but remember this and we will come back to it later.
Technique 2: Store the herbs in a glass of water inside the fridge.
You can do this by cutting the end of the stem of your herb, filling a glass jar or cup with water, and placing your herb inside. Almost like a vase or bouquet of herbs! This is great for the herbs because they will stay hydrated, even though they won’t have any light, or access to warmer temperatures.
Technique 3: Keep them in a glass of water with some natural light.
These herbs will not only be hydrated, but they will also have access to warmer temperatures, and be able to acquire a little bit of sunshine. (resembling the bouquet of flowers example we touched on earlier).
Technique 4: Wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel.
Store the bundles in airtight containers or resealable bags in your crisper drawer (don’t cut the stem!). The paper towel gives enough moisture so they don’t dry out, and the container or resealable bag keeps oxygen out. This method gives leafy green herbs like cilantro and parsley a shelf life of at least 10 days, if not a few weeks. Try it out for yourself and let us know!
Technique 5: Freeze ’em!
Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs to use at a later time! All you need are some ice cube trays, a freezer, and you’re all set. It’s just so convenient to be able to take your frozen herbs out of the freezer whenever you need them. Although your bunches of frozen herbs will be limp when defrosted, they will still be able to serve their purpose by adding delicious flavour to your cooking.
How to Store Specific Herbs and Methods to do so:
Now, let’s break down how to store specific herbs that you probably have in your home (and that you can get at Urban Leaf!)
Method 1: Wrap your fresh basil in a damp paper towel and seal it into a plastic bag for up to 4 days.
Method 2: Place stems in a glass of water and refrigerate for up to a week (remove dark leaves and change the water daily).
Snip off the bottoms of the stems, make sure leaves are completely dry, fill a glass jar halfway with water and place stems inside. Store in the refrigerator covered loosely with a plastic bag. Cilantro can also be stored this way! It loves cool temperatures, so storing in the refrigerator is perfect. Parsley does well in room or cool temperatures, so you can stick in the fridge or countertop. Just make sure to change the water every day.
Storing Lemon Balm
To store your lemon balm, keep the leaves and stems in big pieces to retain as much flavor as possible. Store your herbs in paper bags or glass jars (avoid plastic bags as they may lead to condensation).
Storing Bunched Herbs
When storing a bunch of herbs, immerse the stems in water, like a bouquet of flowers. Cover the jar with a plastic bag and place in the fridge. Change the water every day or so. Most herbs can keep for up to 5 days.
Storing Cut Herbs
Refrigerate cut herbs to keep them fresh. Wrap them loosely in paper towels and store in a plastic bag in the crisper compartment. Most herbs can keep for up to 5 days.
To preserve herbs, mince them finely, seal in an airtight container or plastic bag, and freeze. One great trick if you are using your herbs for soups, sauces, and/or stews, you can fill up an ice cube tray with a tablespoon of chopped herbs, cover with water, and freeze. Pop the cubes out of the tray and store in an airtight container.
How Long to Store
Parsley – 3 weeks
Dill – 3 weeks
Cilantro – 3 weeks
Mint – 2 weeks
Tarragon – 3 weeks
Basil – 2 weeks
Rosemary – 3 weeks
Oregano – 2 weeks
Thyme – 2 weeks
Sage – 2 weeks
Savory – 2 weeks
Chives – 1 week
There you have it. All of our best tips for storing and saving your fresh herbs. Let us know if you have any other methods, or if you try any of the above tips! Give us a shout on Instagram so that we can see your progress.