How to store fresh herbs

There’s nothing like fresh herbs in a dish. They add a brightness and bring another dimension of flavor to a dish that just can’t be replicated. Even if you don’t have your own herb garden, you can still get fresh herbs from the grocery store (or from a generous friend — ask around!). The trouble is, it’s very easy for freshly-cut herbs to wilt in a hurry once you’ve brought them home.

There are a few tricks you can use to get the most of your herbs. Here are two ways to store your herbs so they stay fresher longer and you can enjoy every last bit.

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Storing Parsley and Cilantro

The most inexpensive herbs to buy are usually parsley and cilantro, which are sold in big bundles for less than a dollar (at my local Winco store, they’re usually around 60 cents). These herbs require a lot of moisture to stay fresh, but they also need room to breathe so that moisture doesn’t overwhelm the herbs and turn them into mush in a hurry. So when you bring them home, get out a glass jar or small vase and fill it with water. Undo the bundle of herbs and stick them in the jar like you would freshly-cut flowers.

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Next, take the plastic produce bag and slip it over the top, loosely covering the herbs and lightly bundling it around the jar. This will make a little greenhouse-like tent around the leaves that will keep the moisture in, but because the herbs are standing upright and not smashed in the bottom of the produce drawer, they won’t become mushy or rot.

And finally, store the jar upright in the fridge. I like to keep mine in the door where they’re easily accessible and aren’t likely to be tipped over.

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Storing small cuts of herbs

It’s easy to store smaller bundles of freshly-cut herbs like basil leaves, rosemary, thyme, and so on. These herbs also need moisture and room to breathe, but since you’re dealing with smaller amounts there’s a more compact way to go about it.

I learned this trick from my dad, who is a master at all things food and garden and who always shares his produce with us. First take a small plastic Ziploc bag and poke a few holes in it. Then take a paper towel and get it wet, but don’t soak it. You want it nice and damp. Put that in the bag, place your herbs on top, zip it up, and stick it in the fridge. And voila.

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Do you have any other favorite ways of storing freshly-cut herbs? What are your best tips?

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