Friday, February 8, 2013

How to Store Fresh Herbs

I know, if you are anything like me, you want to find any way you can save money. One of the things that has been making me crazy is having to throw away fresh herbs because they have gone bad in my refrigerator. I know those little amounts don't seem like much at the time. But over the course of a month, it can really add up. Two bucks here, one dollar there. Plus I just don't like to be wasteful. Oh I know some people will say, "Why don't you just use dried herbs?". That is one way to avoid this issue for sure, but just prefer the flavor that fresh herbs add to any dish they are a part of. I will go out of my way at times to find an herb to add to a dish just to give it that "pop" of flavor.

I wasn't always this way. I actually was afraid of fresh herbs when I started this culinary journey of mine. I knew I wanted to use them, but for some reason I was very intimidated by them. I know, silly right? How could a little plant intimidate me? I guess it was just because I had only used dried herbs, and very little of them. I had no idea how fresh herbs really tasted or how to sub fresh herbs for dried herbs in a recipe.

The first thing I did was buy all of the fresh herbs I wanted to use so I could taste them all. That help a lot. Now I had a reference in my mind to call on when coming up with a recipe, or tweaking one I already had. At that time I was living in Southern California. You know, the land where you can grow just about anything? So fresh herbs were no problem and there was no storage issue. Just go out to the garden, clip clip, and into the pot they went.

Then I moved to Western Washington. The weather here is not as forgiving and there is a small window of opportunity to grow your own herbs and produce. I eventually want a green house, but for now I have just been happy with the few months I can grow my own. But that gives me 8 or 9 months of having to buy my herbs at the grocery store, just like most of you.

I had seen a little trick that Rachael Ray does where she rolls her parsley, cilantro, and other greens, in paper towels and stores them in the fridge in zipper plastic bags. I did that for a while, and it does work well. I have kept cilantro and parsley for a week or two that way. The problem is if you don't replace the paper towel every few days, you will lose your herbs. There is nothing more depressing, when making a meal, than to grab your herbs and open them up only to find, yellow, wilty, or even black herbs waiting for you. ARG!!

In our new house we have a green house window. It is a drafty old thing so I don't know that I would really call it a "green house", but it gave me an idea. I brought home my herbs, grabbed some jars, and treated them just like I would a bouquet of flowers. I snipped the ends off and placed them in the jars filled 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up with lukewarm water.. You need to make sure they are completely dry or they will wilt. I don't rinse them until I use them. I placed them in my green house window and they last forever and stay just like new.

Basil is the tricky one, it likes warm temps. Cold is your enemy and so even storing it at room temperature is tricky in my house. But by storing it this way I still have viable basil beyond what I had by storing it in the fridge. The leaves might wilt a bit, but they are still soft and you don't get that black sliminess that you get when storing it in the fridge. Right now I have cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil in my kitchen and they have been there all week.

Other herbs I use a lot are oregano, thyme, rosemary, and tarragon. I am looking forward to my green house window looking like it should!!

Oh if your house is warm (you are very lucky) I would keep my parsley and basil out, but place the others in the fridge. You can tent them loosely with a plastic bag.

This is my parsley, dill ,and cilantro. They are a week old and look just like they did when I brought them home from the store.

Recipes and Ramblins with the Tumbleweed Contessa


  1. Your note say that you have to make sure the herbs are completely dry. You said you snip off the ends and place them in jars.Are we to understand that you don't put water in the jars?Because in your pictures it looks like water in the jars.

    1. You are so right, I am sorry I omitted that step. Thank you for pointing it out.

  2. Thanks for the info! Very informative!

    Happy Valley Chow

  3. Very helpful........Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    1. Thanks so much :) I just used the last of the dill from this post last night and have a tad more parsley left. It works so well!! Thanks for hosting an awesome party!

  4. So glad you came and shared with us!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this information at What'd You Do This Weekend. I don't want to mess with growing an herb garden since I don't use them too often, so this sounds like an ideal solution! I'm pinning.

    1. I know it is perfect for me since I have limited space and sooooo many herbs I want LOL I am glad it was helpful!!