storing fresh herbs
- hotsauce28 Nov 29, 2007 06:36 PM
Can someone tell me the best way to make them last? I'm always buying big bunches of usually coriander, parsley and dill and end up throwing most of it away. I've tried wrapping them in paper towel but it's still pretty gross in a few days.
Thanks in advance!
i have put them in paper towels and that helps for a week or so. but ultimately they spoil no matter what. so buying big quantities if you dont use them up is not a good idea. i have even tried to wash, clean and then store in a plastic container again the one week limit with most methods.
for parsley and cilantro (which is a.k.a. coriander, right?) i soak them in water in my salad spinner to clean them, spin them dry then put them in ziploc bags with a sheet of paper towels. i try to change out the paper towels every few days and the herbs will last for at least a good two weeks like this (depending on how fresh the herbs were to begin with).
for thyme, i pick the leaves off the stems and put them in a small tupperware container lined with a piece of paper towel and topped with another piece of paper towel then put the lid on. this keeps the thyme fresh and green for about 2 weeks as well. picking the thyme leaves is a bit tedious, and i usually have my husband do it while he's watching t.v.
i still haven't figured out a good way to keep rosemary fresh. if anyone has suggestions i'd be happy to hear them!
You can tell your husband to stand down! I put the thyme and rosemary right into the freezer on the stems in a ziplock bag. When I need it for cooking, I pull it out and while it's still frozen, I run my fingers up the stem against the growth pattern of the leaves/needles and they pop right off onto the cutting board or into the pot. They freeze beautifully.
Rosemary will keep for a good while in a vase with water at room temp.
Since I use flat leaf parsley for cooking, I chop a bunch or two at a time and freeze it in a container. I take out what I need when I need it. If I'm going to use it for garnish, I buy fresh for that meal, then chop the rest and freeze it.
Depending on how fresh it is and the condition of the stems, I treat a bunch of leafy herbs like a bunch of flowers: trim the stems and put them in a glass of water. They'll usually stay fresh that way for several days, and when they stop taking up water, they'll keep a few more days in the fridge. I've never tried this with woody herbs, though (I have a huge rosemary bush, so I only pick it as needed).
I follow Harold McGee's recommendation of wrapping them loosely in paper towels (to keep them from absorbing moisture thereby preventing microbes from growing on wel leaves) and storing them in an open plastic bag in the fridge. This works very well for me, although I often store rosemary without the paper in a zip-lock snack-size baggie and I'm surprised at how long it lasts. McGee says basil should be stored at room temp with stems immersed in water since it suffers from being chilled.
For parsley and cilantro, I wash thoroughly (and cut off the roots, if they've come that way), dry thoroughly and wrap in paper towels. Pop them in a ziplock and they last quite a long time (2 weeks even). If the paper towels are looking damp, just replace them.
For basil, I treat it like flowers. Into a vase with water, right on the countertop or windowsill (after washing and drying of course). Then I just pluck what I want. I've tried both keeping the roots and cutting them off. For the vase method, I've actually had better success when I've cut off the roots first, then put them in water. And replenish the water as necessary. (I find that basil goes brown really quickly in the refrigerator.)
For rosemary and sage, I've been doing the same ziploc-paper towel thing. But it's not working as well. It lasts -- maybe a week or more -- but not nearly as long as the parsley and cilantro will last. So I just try to use it up -- often in eggs or potatoes or whatever else I'm throwing together at the last minute.
Put them in glass jars they will last for weeks.
For best results, remove any dead leavies or pieces before putting them in the jar.
Keep an eye on the jar every few days. If a leaf of parsley turns yellow remove it.
If you can buy from a farmers market. When buying from a supermarket, what you buy is already days old.
Also a supermarket has those awful misters so herbs rot out sooner because of all that water. So if using those, let them dry on the counter first. Herbs in a jar will create their own moisture ... like a terranium ... so you don't want to add more water to that.
The only exception is basil. As others have noted, keep it on the counter like cut flowers in water ... always trim those dead ends first.
Parsley and cilantro keep really well on the counter in water, too. I bought the Italian parsley for Thanksgiving the previous Saturday and it was still in perfect condition on Thursday, and was still in good condition the next day, after being trekked to my sister's in-laws and left out in a plastic bag over night. The caveat is that if the stems have already started to breakdown, they won't absorb water, so your herbs will just wither.
Heartily second the glass jar for cilantro and mint and on-counter-like-cut-flowers for basil. I even wipe down beads of moisture that collect in jar once a week, especially for herbs like mint that come in a big bunch but that I don't use as steadily as cilantro. Lately I tried the on-counter method for fresh-snipped-from-the-pot thyme as well and it worked. I haven't tried thyme or rosemary in the jar.