How To Store Fresh Herbs So They Last Longer
From the lush tropics of ancient Indonesia to the Western world we know today, herbs have been used for thousands of years in everything from culinary dishes to ancient health remedies. Utilizing these flavorful greens in your everyday routine is just one way to live a holistic and well-rounded life.
- Know what type of herb you are using
- Understand what causes herbs to go bad
- Learn how to properly wash your herbs
- How to store herbs in the refrigerator
- Storing herbs in the freezer
Whether you want to brighten the taste of your favorite meal or enrich a mug of soothing tea, fresh herbs are a must-have for healthy living. However, they will wilt rapidly if you overlook the importance of storing them properly. Maintaining their freshness and zest is critical if you want to prolong their shelf life and enjoy the countless delicious benefits they have to offer.
Keep reading, and we'll share with you everything you need to know about storing fresh herbs to help them last.
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#1. Know What Type Of Herb You Are Using
Your kitchen isn't complete without plenty of fresh or dried herbs to spice up your favorite foods. Whether you enjoy tossing some basil on soups and salads or using dill in fresh and savory dishes, herbs can truly elevate your diet.
However, fresh herbs aren't only ideal for adding flavor and zest to your foods. They also can offer some profound health benefits that you might not know about.
For example, basil has been proven to help control blood pressure and ease stress. Garlic is known to ward off the common cold and prevent the hardening of arteries.
The Profound History And Use Of Healing Herbs
For thousands of years, herbs have been widely used to spice up various dishes and foods. Most culinary herbs have beautiful aromas and flavors that can transform a dish while simultaneously offering countless health benefits.
For example, fresh herbs were often used in the ancient Indonesian wellness custom of Jamu.
The Ancient Healing Customs Of Jamu
The Jamu Lifestyle utilizes unique combinations of plants, roots, and herbs in order to maintain the holistic health of a person. From culinary recipes to skincare rituals, these natural ingredients serve countless purposes.
However, not all herbs are created equally. They all have unique tastes and flavors. And it's important to know what kind of herbs you have so that you can store them in the right way.
Most herbs can be broken down into two categories: soft, tender herbs, and hardy herbs.
Soft herbs have tender stems and delicate green leaves. The entirety of the plant is fully edible, though the stems can often be a bit more bitter. Tender herbs include dill, mint, parsley, cilantro, and basil. Other herbs, like tarragon, also fall into this category.
Tender herbs can be pretty tricky to store. That's because they can wilt quickly if not stored correctly.
Hardy herbs usually have woody stems, hence their secondary name of "woody herbs." They also have tougher leaves. Examples of hard herbs include rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
#2. Understand What Causes Herbs To Go Bad
There are many reasons why your herbs might go bad too fast. Most of the time, properly storing your fresh herbs can help ensure they maintain their flavor and vigor while prolonging their shelf life.
If your herbs are smelling funky, turning dark and slimy, or even starting to mold, it's well past time to throw them out. There are a few reasons why your herbs might become bad fast.
Why Are Your Fresh Herbs Going Bad?
They are subjected to too much oxygen. Excessive oxygen or light will speed up the browning process and leave the leaves looking yellow.
They have too much moisture around them. The leaves of your herbs are delicate and should be free of excess water. If the greens are too wet when you put them away, it'll lead to the leaves becoming slimy, rotten, and soggy.
Your herbs might already have started going bad when you bought them. It's important to only buy greens that have green, perky leaves that are free of yellow or limp stems. Forego greens that have a sickly sweet scent, slimy leaves, or any discolored spots on the plant.
You didn't store them at the right temperature. The environment in which you store your herbs can play a big role in how long they stay good. Most of them will stay fresh if you store them in the refrigerator, while others will decay quicker if they are too cold.
#3. Learn How To Properly Wash Your Herbs
One of the biggest debates when it comes to herb storage is whether you should wash them before storing them.
On the one hand, washing herbs can potentially introduce more moisture to them if they aren't dried properly. However, any grocery herbs are likely pretty wet to begin with, and washing them can help remove bacteria or dirt before putting them away.
Regardless of when you choose to wash herbs, it's important to do it right.
The best way to do so is by washing them under cold water and then tossing them in a salad spinner after removing any ties or rubber bands. This process helps effectively remove any impurities left on the greens, especially for leafy, tender herbs. Don't forget to remove any damaged or rotting leaves.
Afterward, be sure to completely dry them before putting them away.
#4. How To Store Herbs In The Refrigerator
The vast majority of herbs will be best stored in the refrigerator. However, you should still use a method that is right for your herb types.
How To Store Soft Herbs In The Fridge
Soft herbs can stay fresh for up to two or three weeks if stored properly in the fridge.
After washing and drying them, trim off the bottom half inch of the stems. Fill a mason jar or container with a couple of inches of cool water, and place the herbs in stem-down.
Be sure that there's only enough water to submerge the stem bottoms without touching the leaves.
After gathering the herbs in the water-filled jars, loosely cover the leaves with a clear plastic bag. Then, place them in the refrigerator and change the water every few days to ensure they stay flavorful and fresh.
Storing Hardy Herbs
Like soft herbs, hard herbs also do best when stored in the refrigerator and can max out their shelf-life at two or three weeks.
Again, after washing and drying them, start by trimming off an inch or so from the bottom of the stem. Then, wrap the entire herb in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
What Herbs Should Not Be Refrigerated?
Though the majority of herbs thrive in the cool climate of the fridge, that's not true for all. Soft herbs like mint, parsley, and cilantro should be stored in the refrigerator, but basil is one herb that should be kept at room temperature.
You can keep basil on the counter out of direct sunlight.
#5. How To Freeze Herbs
Looking to keep your herbs fresh for even longer? You can also freeze them to prolong their self-life even more.
For hardy herbs, wash and dry them thoroughly before placing them in a freezer-safe bag. Then, freeze them.
For soft herbs, blend the greens with a couple of tablespoons of water or olive oil before placing the mixture in a freezer bag or ice cube tray.
If you want to enjoy the flavor and zest of your favorite greens for weeks while elevating your lifestyle, storing them properly is essential!
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