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How do you store your herbs?


ElsieD
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I throw out a lot of herbs because I don't know the best way to store them properly.  The other day it was cilantro.  Often asparagus and thyme meet the same fate.  So, how do you store your herbs?  On the counter in a container with a plastic bag over them note: (does not work for cilantro), wrapped in a wrung-out paper towel in a plastic bag?  I'd love to know what works and what doesn't.

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8 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

I throw out a lot of herbs because I don't know the best way to store them properly.  The other day it was cilantro.  Often asparagus and thyme meet the same fate.  So, how do you store your herbs?  On the counter in a container with a plastic bag over them note: (does not work for cilantro), wrapped in a wrung-out paper towel in a plastic bag?  I'd love to know what works and what doesn't.

I have tried various methods as well....mostly the ones you've mentioned.  I've bought containers that go in the fridge with water in the bottom, nothing worked well enough to satisfy me.  The current method I'm using is to put them in a Foodsaver container, I'm told they last weeks that way.  Right now I'm testing that theory.  I'll let you know how well it works.

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I'm a fan of first removing a rubber band at the bottom if there is one.  Working with one bundle of herbs at a time, I lay out a couple of sheets of DRY paper towels. Then I pick through the bundle of herbs I'm working with (mostly referring to parsley, chives, dill, cilantro, even scallions) to discard any which look obviously bad or on their way to bad. The bundle gets rolled within the dry paper towels; that roll then goes into a plastic bag and into the refrigerator, where I store the bags in a shelf on the door (which I think is the warmest place in the fridge). Different plastic bag for each herb. As I use the herbs, I may replace the paper towels if they get too damp/moist. I can get some herbs (parsley/dill) to last almost 2 weeks this way. Cilantro and chives about a week (though I haven't used Jacques' tip of freezing cilantro stems to use in cooking - it sounds like a good one). Heartier herbs with woodier stems last longer (thyme, rosemary).

 

I actually do the same with lettuces after I've rinsed and spun them dry, though I use clean kitchen towels to wrap and enclose. They stay crisp and nice for up to a week this way.

 

In this fridge, sometimes the crisper drawers get too  cold and I've seen lettuce and other soft greens/herbs get a little frostbitten, so I really try to keep them in the door or on a top shelf. My fridge is not for the meek at heart.

Edited by weinoo (log)
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This is a constant struggle here too, but I have discovered a few things through some experimentation. Grocery store herbs like chives, dill, taragon, mint etc do much better with the plastic bag/paper towel method if you make a point of adding some air to the bag before sealing it up, ie blow into it and seal. As far as I can tell, pressing the air out keeps the herbs in close contact with any moisture in there, which quickens their deterioration. I keep cilantro and parsley in the fridge in a glass with a small amount of water in the bottom and a loose bag over the top. You can do the same with asparagus, though on that one I'm not sure it extends the life that much farther than just putting them in a bag in the crisper drawer. Looking forward to some more ideas, though I do also feel that after some days even herbs that are still green and fresh looking tend to lose a lot of their character and flavor.

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3 minutes ago, Yiannos said:

moisture in there, which quickens their deterioration.

This is key - it's why dry paper towels are a must.

 

But I've never had any better luck by storing any herb with its base in water. Be it on a counter or in the fridge.

Edited by weinoo (log)
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2 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

But I've never had any better luck by storing any herb with its base in water. Be it on a counter or in the fridge.

 

This didn't really work for me either until I realized that less water is much better than more, maybe just an inch or half an inch covering the exposed stems (which I usually also trim before putting in the glass). I would imagine everyone's fridge and kitchen environment is slightly different too, I've had people swear by a given method and I could never get it to work.

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A me too on the DRY paper towel after picking through and check every other day. If towel moist - replace. I also use my nose at cut end. If it does not smell like the herb - not good. I'll do a hodge podge green Goddess type sauce to use up.  Agree also on just a touch of water in a jar if you want to go that route. Those skinny stems don't want to sit in a marsh. 

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I recently bought a bunch of basil at the supermarket (said to be local) that had roots intact, it said to put in water just to cover the roots, not in direct sunlight. It kept nicely for a week in my kitchen, but I noticed the stems were very light in color after a week, as I suppose the plant wasn't getting any nutrients! Otherwise I follow Weinoo's method, which works very well if you cull out the bad leaves before wrapping.

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Basil is one of those herbs that really suffer in any refrigeration, so keeping it alive in your kitchen was a good move...if and when I bring home basil, it's pesto time...make batches without the cheese element, and then freeze in large cubes. Cheese gets added when using the pesto.

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I've kept cilantro for 2 weeks using the flower vase method - about an inch of water in the bottom of a short glass and the plastic grocery bag loosely draped over the top.  The only issue is that you have to change the water every couple of days and make sure that none of the leaves find their way into the water.  The stems are a lot hardier than the leaves are.  You can definitely freeze the stems - I do it all the time.  I also have frozen thai chilies - it's fine for most things that I'm just going to turn into paste later.

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5 hours ago, weinoo said:

In this fridge, sometimes the crisper drawers get too  cold and I've seen lettuce and other soft greens/herbs get a little frostbitten, so I really try to keep them in the door or on a top shelf.

This is so rebellious only a New Yorker could pull it off. Why do you think they make crisper drawers? But I think you’ve nailed the answer. Storing them in the warmer part of the fridge is probably the way to go. Thanks for sharing. 

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2 hours ago, Anna N said:

This is so rebellious only a New Yorker could pull it off. Why do you think they make crisper drawers? But I think you’ve nailed the answer. Storing them in the warmer part of the fridge is probably the way to go. Thanks for sharing. 

@weinoo I have a drawer in the new fridge (actually it's an old fridge in the new apartment) that has a drawer with a lever where you can adjust temperature - colder to warmer.  I've kept ripe mangoes in there (in the warmer setting) very successfully for a couple weeks (until they were all eaten).  My crisper drawers also have a lever which you can use to adjust humidity.

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I have a terrible time with storing herbs.  When it comes to the residents of my hydrator/crisper drawer:  "out of sight, out of mind".  And every ill that leads to.  Think of a New York nursing home.

 

However my blast chiller can be set within one degree, and the temperature readout agrees well with my thermocouples.  My concern is ice cream at basil temperatures.

 

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I try never to store fresh herbs. I grow most of the ones I use. In pots of various sizes on my balcony and on window sills.

 

I never store coriander / cilantro or grow it. Did try growing it but without much success.

 

Instead, I buy it. Luckily, in the market, it comes unbunched, so I can buy just as much or as little as I like. I kid you not. I could buy as little as one or two stems and the vendor wouldn't blink.

 

So. any I buy (and I buy it nearly every day) is used that day at its freshest.

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9 hours ago, KennethT said:

@weinoo I have a drawer in the new fridge (actually it's an old fridge in the new apartment) that has a drawer with a lever where you can adjust temperature - colder to warmer.  I've kept ripe mangoes in there (in the warmer setting) very successfully for a couple weeks (until they were all eaten).  My crisper drawers also have a lever which you can use to adjust humidity.

 

Trust me, the "levers" existing on the two crisper drawers in this Kitchen Aid fridge (which, by the way, is the same as an Amana, Whirlpool or Maytag fridge) do nothing. At least not for the last 18 years in which I've owned one of the above.

 

3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

any I buy (and I buy it nearly every day) is used that day at its freshest.

 

I guess had this thread been titled "How often do you buy fresh herbs?", this might be relevant.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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7 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Instead, I buy it. Luckily, in the market, it comes unbunched, so I can buy just as much or as little as I like. I kid you not. I could buy as little as one or two stems and the vendor wouldn't blink.

This is fascinating.  How I would love that system!!!

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I've tried all above and then some. Agree everyones mileage will vary. How fresh when purchased, your fridge. 

For me anyway, treating all veg and herbs as it hits the kitchen with a clean sink, colander, trim anything with a root end,

then into a standing clean water bowl enough for the stem ends to have a drink. Onto clean kitchen towels to dry off on the counter

or a zip in the salad spinner. 

I do have an herb garden just outside the kitchen on the deck. Cilantro bolts so I purchase. I re-plant in succession every few weeks even partially 

shaded but it hates the heat. 

Cilantro gets a root end trim, then into fresh water, inch, in a jar. A dry paper towel in the top of the loose thin plastic bag keeps the tender leaves

from coming in contact with the moisture that forms inside the plastic. Same with basil out of season purchased. (I have plenty in the garden now)

I put the cilantro jar in the door of the fridge so it does not get lost and crushed. Easy to check it right in front of my face. Rinse and freshen the water

and check for slime. 

Asparagus should be sold at the grocery sitting in water, but I still trim the stems a half inch or so, then into a similar jar of water with the p-towel in a bag topper. 

Standing up. I only buy it if it is very fresh with a tight head. Usually ends up in a fridge clearing frittata.

This cilantro is on its last legs. A week old. I'll use it tonight. The stems still look good so maybe in something tomorrow.

I froze a tray I have mixed feelings about but had to give it a go last month....needed to pinch the basil tops. Cilantro, mint, Thai basil, celery leaves, chives.  

Another method that works well is rolling in a kitchen towel, then into a bag. This is celery I grow like parsley. Mint, thyme, rosemary likes the cloth roll. I sprinkle 

a tsp of water on the outside of the cloth, then into a bag. My fridge crisper keeps a killer temp. Food is expensive. I have never had produce last so long.

I know the difference. The beach house fridge is BS carp. Worst fridge ever. Crisper drawer moved to the very top. We keep re-fillable water bottles at the bottom

where the crisper should be....nice and frozen to pack for a hike. 

I harvested some more squash blossoms this morning. In a take-out container with a p-towel. 

Best advice I can offer is to take something like your next bunch of cilantro and split it up. Try a cloth roll and a water glass/p-towel into your fridge door. 

 

Somewhat related is the new Misfits members 2020, that were/still are confused and unaware about produce storage. The box comes with 90% free of any bagging.

Most have never had celeriac, fennel, various radish, golden beets with the greens attached, lacinato kale, radicchio, escarole...stuff it in the crisper and it is limp

the next day or two. 

Trial and error, rinse and dry, pack in a bag with or without a damp p-towel....

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 9.00.43 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 9.28.03 AM.png

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20 hours ago, KennethT said:

@weinoo I have a drawer in the new fridge (actually it's an old fridge in the new apartment) that has a drawer with a lever where you can adjust temperature - colder to warmer.  I've kept ripe mangoes in there (in the warmer setting) very successfully for a couple weeks (until they were all eaten).  My crisper drawers also have a lever which you can use to adjust humidity.

 

Thank you for this post.  I had been mulling over @weinoo's post when I read yours.  It reminded me that our second fridge, a Samsung, has a totally separate drawer and that you can adjust the settings for that drawer.  There are four settings ranging from -1C (29F) to 5C (42F).  I figure that drawer can be my fridge "warm spot" as the doors in my kitchen fridge are full of other stuff.

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On 9/1/2021 at 1:11 PM, KennethT said:

I've kept cilantro for 2 weeks using the flower vase method - about an inch of water in the bottom of a short glass and the plastic grocery bag loosely draped over the top.  The only issue is that you have to change the water every couple of days and make sure that none of the leaves find their way into the water.  The stems are a lot hardier than the leaves are.  You can definitely freeze the stems - I do it all the time.  I also have frozen thai chilies - it's fine for most things that I'm just going to turn into paste later.

 

I tried this with my last batch of cilantro and within 2 days it had turned to slime.  Reading the replies, I used too much water.

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15 hours ago, liuzhou said:

I try never to store fresh herbs. I grow most of the ones I use. In pots of various sizes on my balcony and on window sills.

 

I never store coriander / cilantro or grow it. Did try growing it but without much success.

 

Instead, I buy it. Luckily, in the market, it comes unbunched, so I can buy just as much or as little as I like. I kid you not. I could buy as little as one or two stems and the vendor wouldn't blink.

 

So. any I buy (and I buy it nearly every day) is used that day at its freshest.

 

Lucky you.  Our markets happen once a week and herbs are sold in bundles.

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5 hours ago, Annie_H said:

I've tried all above and then some. Agree everyones mileage will vary. How fresh when purchased, your fridge. 

For me anyway, treating all veg and herbs as it hits the kitchen with a clean sink, colander, trim anything with a root end,

then into a standing clean water bowl enough for the stem ends to have a drink. Onto clean kitchen towels to dry off on the counter

or a zip in the salad spinner. 

I do have an herb garden just outside the kitchen on the deck. Cilantro bolts so I purchase. I re-plant in succession every few weeks even partially 

shaded but it hates the heat. 

Cilantro gets a root end trim, then into fresh water, inch, in a jar. A dry paper towel in the top of the loose thin plastic bag keeps the tender leaves

from coming in contact with the moisture that forms inside the plastic. Same with basil out of season purchased. (I have plenty in the garden now)

I put the cilantro jar in the door of the fridge so it does not get lost and crushed. Easy to check it right in front of my face. Rinse and freshen the water

and check for slime. 

Asparagus should be sold at the grocery sitting in water, but I still trim the stems a half inch or so, then into a similar jar of water with the p-towel in a bag topper. 

Standing up. I only buy it if it is very fresh with a tight head. Usually ends up in a fridge clearing frittata.

This cilantro is on its last legs. A week old. I'll use it tonight. The stems still look good so maybe in something tomorrow.

I froze a tray I have mixed feelings about but had to give it a go last month....needed to pinch the basil tops. Cilantro, mint, Thai basil, celery leaves, chives.  

Another method that works well is rolling in a kitchen towel, then into a bag. This is celery I grow like parsley. Mint, thyme, rosemary likes the cloth roll. I sprinkle 

a tsp of water on the outside of the cloth, then into a bag. My fridge crisper keeps a killer temp. Food is expensive. I have never had produce last so long.

I know the difference. The beach house fridge is BS carp. Worst fridge ever. Crisper drawer moved to the very top. We keep re-fillable water bottles at the bottom

where the crisper should be....nice and frozen to pack for a hike. 

I harvested some more squash blossoms this morning. In a take-out container with a p-towel. 

Best advice I can offer is to take something like your next bunch of cilantro and split it up. Try a cloth roll and a water glass/p-towel into your fridge door. 

 

Somewhat related is the new Misfits members 2020, that were/still are confused and unaware about produce storage. The box comes with 90% free of any bagging.

Most have never had celeriac, fennel, various radish, golden beets with the greens attached, lacinato kale, radicchio, escarole...stuff it in the crisper and it is limp

the next day or two. 

Trial and error, rinse and dry, pack in a bag with or without a damp p-towel....

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 9.00.43 AM.png

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 9.28.03 AM.png

 

Thank you.  When you say cloth roll, do you mean something like a tea towel or microfiber cloth?

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20 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

 

I tried this with my last batch of cilantro and within 2 days it had turned to slime.  Reading the replies, I used too much water.

I had that happen when I first started it - it goes really fast!  I find just an inch of water (to make sure all the stem bottoms are in if they're not all the same height) and making sure no leaves are in the water are the key.  That and changing the water every day or two.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@ElsieD My test is about complete although I'm still holding onto my herbs.

After two weeks of storing my thyme, sage and parsley in my vacuum food containers

both are looking as fresh as when they went in.  I've yet to try some of the other herbs but so far I'm really impressed.  These were wrapped in a damp paper towel and then placed into the container and vacuumed.  

I've long been a big fan of vacuum food storage and this brand has ben overall the very best.  I tried growing herbs at home but generally they go bust when I need them the most, as in fall and winter.  Now I buy fresh and store them this way.

I will try some of the others and report back.

Edited by lindag (log)
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