How can you keep picked-herbs fresh and make the most of them in all seasons? Inspired by our Health Hacks video on home herb garden tips, we’ve gathered a few essential cheats and tips for doing just that.
Fresh herbs are a great way to boost flavour in almost any dish. And with the right information, anyone can get to grips with cultivating their very own at-home herb garden. For starters, did you know that the best herbs to grow inside include basil, mint, coriander, dill, parsley, sage and oregano? The good news is that these herbs are also extremely versatile and perfect for many recipes.
Aside from the excitement you may feel when your efforts pay off, and the herbs begin to grow, you’ll also have a sense of achievement when adding your home-grown herbs to your food.
But what if you pick your fresh herbs just to watch them wilt a few days later when you’re ready to add them to another dish? Let’s just say that it’s all about storage! And thanks to these simple tips, your herbs will stay fresh all week long and maybe even beyond.
How To Store “Soft” Herbs
First question, what are soft herbs? Basil, parsley, and coriander all fall under the category. Just think of them as the ones with the tender stems, or the ones that seem more delicate and dare we say it, softer to the touch.
One of the simplest ways to store soft herbs is to treat them a bit like cut flowers. First, snip off the ends and fill a jar with a couple of inches of water. Put the herbs into the jar and cover them with a plastic food bag. Then, secure the bag with a rubber band and put the jar in the fridge. There is one caveat to this list. For basil, follow all steps until you get to the fridge part. Basil is actually best left at room temperature. So, you can cut them, place them in water and cover with a bag, but then leave them on your kitchen counter.
To keep them fresh for as long as possible, replace the water in every instance every couple of days. This easy trick can keep your soft herbs fresh for up to two weeks.
How To Store “Hard” Herbs
The easiest way to work out your hard herbs from your soft is to look at the stems. The woodier stems are classed as hard herbs. To give you some examples, rosemary, oregano, and thyme are all hard herbs.
Again, getting the most from your hard herbs and making them last even after harvesting from your mini herb garden is easy. Instead of putting them in a jar with water, put your cut herbs on a damp paper towel. Then roll them up and place them inside a plastic food bag. Put this package in the fridge and use them when needed.
With both hard and soft herbs, it’s worth remembering that it’s best to wash them before you use them, rather than before you store them.
How To Store Herbs Long-Term
To extend the life of your cut herbs even further, you can try freezing them. Just chop up all the herbs you want to save for a later time and place them in empty ice trays. Next, pour olive oil or water over the chopped herbs and put the tray in the freezer.
To work effectively, you’ll need to leave your chopped herbs at least overnight to allow them to freeze completely. And when you’re ready to use them, simply, pop one of the cubes out of the tray and place in the recipe for cooking. There’s no need to defrost beforehand.
To get started on your own herb garden, just visit the local supermarket or garden centre and pick your plants. And now you even have all the tips you need to make your herbs last even longer.