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Fresh Herbs


Marlene
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I'm getting into using more and more fresh herbs, especially as I continue to explore the world of braising. I recently bought some fresh rosemary sprigs and fresh bay leaves. (who knew they were really green?). I haven't used very much of either, and I'm not sure how to store them now. In the fridge, on the counter? A deep dark hole somewhere?

Once the snow lifts and we have nice weather again, I'll experiment with growing my own, but in the meantime, these are the next best thing.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Bay: Place in an open plastic bag; store in a dark, cool, dry place. The leaves will dry out over time; when they are fully dry, pull them off their stems and store them in an airtight jar.

Rosemary (also sage, oregano, marjoram, savoury, verbena, thyme, etc.): Remove any string/rubber band holding the stems together; place herbs in an open plastic bag; store in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.

To dry fresh herbs, tie them loosely together at the base of the stems and hang the bunches in a cool, dry place where air can circulate freely.

Store basil, dill, mint, coriander, chervil, chives and parsley (arugula, rapini and asparagus, too) by trimming the stems (unless the roots are intact), standing them in a container partially filled with water and loosely covering the container with a plastic bag. I don't refrigerate fresh basil as I find that mutes its flavour; the other herbs don't seem to mind the chill.

edit: italicized bits

Edited by carswell (log)
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I place all my herbs in a flower vase on the window sill in the kitchen. Change the water everyother day. They last for 1 to 2 weeks and look great.

I keep fresh bay leaves in the fridge in a little plastic breathable package (they come that way) and they last for a long time. They dry out a bit but I haven't noticed a flavor change.

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The sturdier woody stemmed herbs (rosemary, thyme et al) I wrap loosely in paper towels and keep the bundles in an large plastic bin in the fridge. The more delicate herbs (parsley, basil et al) I refrigerate in "vases" which I cover loosely with a baggie. Like one of the other posters, I also keep a couple of bouquets of frequently used herbs in mason jar "vases" on my kitchen counter.

Summer is a whole different story... I just go out and snip what I need :smile:

Actually, even in summer I like to have bouquets of herbs in the kitchen.

Cheese: milk’s leap toward immortality – C.Fadiman

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I've been picking "freeze dried" rosemary all winter long from my garden (I had a very big plant). It is close as damn-it to fresh. Better than the "fresh" stuff I can find in my local supermarket. Plus, it gives me an excuse to wade in the snow and dream of summer and fresh everything.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I've been picking "freeze dried" rosemary all winter long from my garden (I had a very big plant).  It is close as damn-it to fresh.  Better than the "fresh" stuff I can find in my local supermarket.

Well, yes, though freezing doesn't work well with every herb for every use (for example, pesto freezes well but basil leaves do not). Actually, the best way to store herbs is in soil in pots on a sunny windowsill in the winter and outside in the summer. My rosemary bush is around 15 years old now. It blooms after I bring it indoors, then goes into suspended animation from November through January. New growth starts in February, as with most of my other potted herbs. It's like they know they're going to start spending time outside in another five or six weeks.

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I've found that herbs store best in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the crisper. Make sure they are dry though. The vase method works fine, but somehow I always manage to knock things over in the fridge. You have to make sure to change the water too, or you will greatly shorten the life.

My bay tree is does well indoors all year round. I suspect its easier to grow indoors than most herbs, but that's just a guess.

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I find that keeping soft herbs such as parsley, mint, chervil in a plastic tub covered with a damp paper towel. Use a plant sprayer thing to keep the moist every now and again. It is also best to pick the leaves first before storing (don't know why). Hard herbs such as rosemary and thyme can also be kept fresh in this way or dried in a warm place e.g on top of an oven. Corriander doesn't seem to last like other soft herbs so we freeze it and sprinkle it over dishes at the end from frozen.

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I've been picking "freeze dried" rosemary all winter long from my garden (I had a very big plant).  It is close as damn-it to fresh.  Better than the "fresh" stuff I can find in my local supermarket.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to wade in the snow and dream of summer and fresh everything.

While not anywhere near as cold as Minnesota, we've had excellent luck with our Mediterranean herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary) wintering over as long as we plant them on the southwest side of the house. The ones exposed to north winter wind almost always croaked unless it was avery mild winter. Just cut them back in the early spring.

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I haven't tried this, and it is OT, but Elizabeth David wrote about preserving some fresh herbs in layers of coarse salt. Just put down a layer of salt, followed by layers of herbs and salt, in a jar. Cover and store in a cool dark place. It apparently works for thyme, basil, and rosemary. If anyone has tried this, I'd like to know how good it is.

I'll have to remember to try it next summer.

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  • 1 year later...

I love to buy fresh herbs all the time, but especially these days of Northern Hemisphere summer (who doesn't?)

Basil

Thyme

Cilantro

Parsley

Sage

Dill

I find that the herbs don't keep very well. I am sure there is a solution to this continual waste of herbs.

I get the herbs in plastic bags. I've had the most success in just putting the herbs in a loose fitting bigger bag and putting them on the shelf in the fridge.

The basil doesn't seem to like the fridge at all, but the other herbs often last this way. A combination of keeping them dry, but keeping them from drying out. If they are at all wet, it seems they turn slimey.

What are the secrets that I am missing here?

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I've had the best luck with wrapping my herbs in a paper towel, then putting them into a zip lock bag, and then into the crisper in my fridge. Some stay better than others, but they're the best results I've had. Parsley seems to last quite a while, but basil and chives just don't last long for me, no matter what.

You can also go ahead and chop up your herbs and put portions into an ice cube tray, pour water in and then freeze them. Just pop out however many ice cubes you need when you're ready to use. The herbs will keep a very long time this way.

I found This Articleon just straight freezing herbs.

I've also seen this Fresh Herb Keeper which has good reviews from the purchasers. I'd like to get one of those and try it out, but haven't yet. Let me know if you do!

Valerie

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body...but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"
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I had this problem too...I'd buy fresh herbs for a recipe then the rest would get slimy and go bad.

A co-worker of mine suggested putting the leftover herbs in a paper bag, sitting it on the counter for a few days to dry it out.

So I tried it and voila! I had freshly dried herbs that weren't slimy or rotten & which can still be used for flavoring my dishes. They last for months and still retain a flavor and aroma that is close to fresh. They are certainly better than the McCormick dried herbs you'd buy in the supermarket. It's a great solution.

I found that parsley doesn't work well with this method though. It's great with rosemary, sage, tarragon & thyme. I haven't tried it with basil or dill yet.

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I love to buy fresh herbs all the time, but especially these days of Northern Hemisphere summer (who doesn't?)

Basil

Thyme

Cilantro

Parsley

Sage

Dill

I find that the herbs don't keep very well. I am sure there is a solution to this continual waste of herbs.

I get the herbs in plastic bags. I've had the most success in just putting the herbs in a loose fitting bigger bag and putting them on the shelf in the fridge.

The basil doesn't seem to like the fridge at all, but the other herbs often last this way. A combination of keeping them dry, but keeping them from drying out. If they are at all wet, it seems they turn slimey.

What are the secrets that I am missing here?

To help preserve the herbs, I take a papertowel, wet it with cool water and then wring out completely. Then roll the herb up in the towel and store in the vegetable drawer. For longer storing, you can take a small container with a shall ow amount of water and place the herbs stem side down in the water.

I have found that the more tender herbs, such as basil, do not last very long in the fridge and are best used right away.

When I have to buy herbs, I only try to buy what I need immediately as the herbs in most groceries are pretty expensive and I can't see throwing $2.99 out the window. The prices make me crazy, but that is another thread.

I don't know if you have access to a small yard or a deck, but starting a small herb garden, whether in planters or in the ground, in the spring is a great way to beat the store prices and have access to herbs most of the year.

Best of luck.

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It seems to me, ultimately the best way is to just start a herb garden so you can take what you need.

Other than that, Alton Browns method of using a paper towel spritzed with some water and then a layer of plastic wrap works quite well. It's inconvenient though if you want to use a tiny bit of herb lots of times.

PS: I am a guy.

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I have had really good luck keeping herbs by trimming the stems and placing them in a mug of water, then putting a plastic produce bag over the tops - a green house effect. Parsley and cilantro especially like this trick. NEVER put basil in the fridge - it hates cold. You can give it the same treatment minus the bag and it will stay fresh on the counter for several days.

Walking out to my backyard and trimming what I need is like I did this morning for my omelet is definitely the best.

Stop Family Violence

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It is, of course, best to have a little herb garden going (you can even start one in the balcony of your apt.)

However, to keep inside the house, inside the refrigerator, the best success I've had I learned from a chef I worked with. Same process as others described: moist paper towel wrapped around your clean (and rinsed dry) herbs. Then I place them in a plastic container. The difference is that I never put a lid over that container.

I guess it makes sense, th fridge causes condensation. If you have a lid, your herbs will accumulate unwanted water, therefore rotting at a higher rate. I've stored herbs like this for a week (maybe a week and a half), but abter a few days I have to change my paper towels.

btw, paper towels are not the only option. A piece of cloth might even do a better job.

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I don't know if this is going to work with the packaged basil we buy in the winter, but I just tried something new.

Five or six days ago, I cut quite a bit more basil from my plant than I ended up using. My left over sprigs? branches? (not sure what to call them), looked so pretty that I stripped off the bottom leaves & put them in a small vase on the window sill. I used some of the leaves last night & they were as tasty as ever. I also added a couple sprigs? (still stumped) of flat leaf parsley and that's doing well also. I have been changing the water every day or so.

I'm not sure how much longer they will last, but I'm certainly enjoying having them on the window sill.

pat w.

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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We bought some more herbs at the farmer's market in Arlington VA USA. So I put the basil with the stems in the water, like a vase of flowers. And I wrapped the oregano, dill and mint in paper towel and put it all in a bag loosely in the refrigerator. I will report back...

Meanwhile, the basil has the most heavenly smell...so it can't be all bad :biggrin:

Edited by cognitivefun (log)
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I've grown really tired of paying $1.99 for a bunch of a fresh herb, only to use a tablespoon or so in a recipe. So this year I tried a few pots of herbs on the deck and I can't believe how easy it is! They just grow and grow, and only need some watering now and then. The parsley is practically a big bush now!

With cilantro, I put it in a glass 2-cup container with some water covering the roots, and put a loose plastic bag over the leaves. This lasts 3-4 days.

*****

"Did you see what Julia Child did to that chicken?" ... Howard Borden on "Bob Newhart"

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With herbs from my garden, I often cut a bunch of different things and put them in a drinking glass with water like a bouquet. It sits on the counter out of direct sunlight and gets snipped from at will. Works great!

~ Lori in PA

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An update on the bouquet of basil on my window sill. Last evening when I was adding more sprigs to it, I noticed that two of the older stems have rooted. Now I'm wondering if it would be possible to grow them hydroponically through the winter. I know the commercial growers do this, but might there be a simple way to do this in you kitchen?

pat w

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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We bought some more herbs at the farmer's market in Arlington VA USA. So I put the basil with the stems in the water, like a vase of flowers. And I wrapped the oregano, dill and mint in paper towel and put it all in a bag loosely in the refrigerator. I will report back...

Meanwhile, the basil has the most heavenly smell...so it can't be all bad  :biggrin:

If you don't use the basil up all at one time, remember to change the water in the glass just as you would for flowers in a vase. I do it about every 2 days.

 

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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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