It’s happened to the best of us: A beautiful bouquet of parsley or abundant sprigs of thyme look perfect in the grocery store, but after two days in the fridge, they’re wilted, dried, or mushy. Herbs are temperamental, but contrary to popular belief, they’re actually quite easy to store. Here are some tips for keeping your herbs fresh longer.
Identify What Type of Herbs You Have
At the risk of stating the obvious, not all herbs are created equally. Knowing the category of your herbs allows you to work with their different storage needs — some are leafy, like parsley, mint, and cilantro, while others are woody, like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Wash and Dry All Herbs
Regardless of herb type, make sure to wash and dry each plant thoroughly when you get home from the store to remove any harmful bacteria. After removing twist ties and other packaging, carefully remove rotten or damaged leaves and stems. Rinse under cool running water before drip-drying over the sink.
Store Leafy Herbs in a Glass of Water
Think of your leafy herbs the way you would a bouquet of fresh flowers and put them in water. Keeping stems hydrated is the key to maximizing the use of herbal leaves. Trim the ends of your herbs, then put them in a mason jar or tall glass with an inch or two of water. Covering the glass with a loose-fitting, unsealed plastic bag creates a nice greenhouse effect for fridge storage. Your leafy herbs will keep for up to two weeks like this.
Wrap Hardy Herbs in a Damp Paper Towel
The greatest risk to hardy herbs is the possibility of drying out. Like leafy herbs, woody herbs also like water but don’t respond very well to just being placed in a glass of water. Instead, these herbs should be put in a plastic bag or Tupperware container with a damp paper towel. The wet paper towel is like a hearty spritz, keeping leaves moist and — most importantly — flavorful. This method should keep woody herbs fresh for up to a week. You should re-wet the paper towel as often as necessary until you’ve used your herbs.
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