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September 16, 2020

Keep your herbs fresher longer using these tricks

Fresh herbs add bright flavor to almost any recipe, but they can be difficult to keep on hand for very long. Learn how to preserve fresh herbs using four simple methods so you can keep these kitchen staples on reserve.

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Nothing beats produce and herbs to bring freshness to your home cooking. But because of their perishable nature, it’s hard to use up all your fruits, veggies and herbs before they go bad. Knowing how to store your produce is the first step in getting the most from your grocery run, but there are several other ways you can preserve herbs to get the most life out of them. Here are several methods you can use to preserve fresh herbs when you need to extend their shelf life by just a couple days with proper refrigerated storage or for many weeks by drying the herbs.

Hang them to dry.

Knowing how to dry herbs will keep you stocked on herbs year-round. Using 100%-cotton kitchen string (aka cotton cooking twine), tie a few stems together. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry place with good circulation until they’re dry (about 5 to 14 days). The length of drying time will vary depending on humidity and herb type. Place the dried herbs in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Before using, crush the dried herbs with your fingers to release their oils and bring out their flavor.

Keep them in a bag.

Wrap small bunches of herbs in a damp paper towel and keep them in an airtight resealable bag in the refrigerator. Storing your fresh herbs this way may extend their shelf life for up to a week versus storing in those produce bags from the grocery store. This method does not work for preserving basil, which should be stored at room temperature.

Store them in a jar of water.

Trim ½ inch from the herb stems and place them in a jar or cup with water. Loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator (except basil, which should be stored at room temperature). This will extend the life of your fresh herbs a couple of days longer, potentially up to a week, than just tossing them into your produce drawer.

Microwave them to dry. 

Place herbs in a single layer between two paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on High for 1 minute, testing for dryness every 20 seconds. The timing will vary depending on herb type. Remove the dried leaves from the stems. Place the dried herbs in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. This method of drying herbs works best for woody-stemmed herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano. Delicate herbs like basil and parsley will wither and turn brown, which completely goes against the preserving goal.

Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.