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best way to store fresh herbs?

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I think I've hear that people keep them in a jar of water? How long do they last like that? I'm tired of watching them languish in the fridge in baggies. I know there's a better way! thanks

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  1. I used to keep the stems in water (like cut flowers). It extended the usable life somewhat. But then I came across Alton Brown's recommended storage method: roll the herbs up in damp paper towels, then put the paper towels in a plastic bag and store in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. It really works; even delicate herbs like cilantro will keep for up to a week.

    3 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      An option, if a week is not long enough (and when you spend $4 for fresh tarragon and only need a few leaves...) is to remove the leaves from stems and freeze them. When you need them, thaw and use. Obviously the flavor will diminish over time, but better than tossing them.

      1. re: bnemes3343

        Another thing we are experimenting with this winter is chopping the herbs fine, mixing them with soft butter, making the butter into a log and then freezing that. We did that with some of our herbs from the garden this winter, like tarragon and italian parsley. So far, they are holding up fine.

        1. re: karykat

          I have read that compound butters only last 1 month in the freezer. However, I have kept many for much longer without any sign of loss of quality. They are so handy & give a good range of quick flavor options! A little left over citrus zest is a nice addition too.

    2. I think these are excellent suggestions! I usually store the herbs like Alton recommends, in a plastic bag with a damp towel and I do think they keep very nicely that way.

      Another thing I usually like to do if we have a lot of herbs on hand is to make a pesto out of it (a combination of herbs work fine, as well as different kinds of nuts), and then freeze the pesto in ice trays. Once the ice trays have frozen, empty them out and store the cubes in a sealed plastic bag. Then you can always take out a cube and mix it in your sauce or dressing or over pasta whenever you want an herb addition.

      1. I read on another thread to store herbs like cilantro in a mason jar, This has wroked really well for me, 2 unheard of weeks for the cilantro! Have not tried any others, but will once prices come down.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dct

          I've got two Herb Keepers in my fridge at the moment - tall jars with rubber lids that allow you to unscrew the bottom and change the water without disturbing the herbs. This keeps a bunch of parsley for as much as two weeks, and even mint lasted several days longer than I expected. I will, however, give Alton's trick a chance, and see how that works. He's seldom wrong about these things!

        2. There's a lot of discussion on the Cookware board on this subject (jars, Herbkeepers, etc). There's also a long thread on the virtues of the Reynold's Handi-vac (an inexpensive vacuum sealer): http://www.chowhound.com/topics/455101

          With the exception of rosemary (since we planted one in the yard and just snip it as needed), I seal up cilantro, basil, chives, and other herbs and they last well over a month without getting brown.

          1. This method works really well. (Just wait for the video to load and then press play ">").

            Chow Tip(s) ---> http://www.chow.com/stories/10833