In the manner of cooking light, I am just now learning about seasoning with fresh herbs. I have learned that they turn black and not so fresh fairly fast, so I scoured the web for advice on how to keep them fresher and for longer periods of time. In other words, how do you store fresh herbs?
Well, it turns out that there are two kinds of herbs: soft and hard. The soft herbs are the ones with soft, leafy stems like basil, parsley, cilantro, mint and tarragon The hard herbs have hard, woody stems and include rosemary, oregano, marjoram, and thyme. Storage completely depends on which type of herb you wish to keep.One easy way to store soft herbs is to put them in a vase filled with water. just like a little bouquet of flowers. Change the water out daily. I now store a vase of basil on my counter-top because it seems to do best at room temperature.
I’ve read that the other soft herbs can be stored in water, but loosely covered with plastic and kept in the refrigerator. However, it works best for me to dampen a paper towel or dishcloth, loosely wrap the parsley and cilantro stems and then place them into a plastic storage container. These can be stored in the vegetable crisper.Real Simple recommends storing the harder herbs in loosely wrapped and dampened paper towels as well.
If you have way more herbs than you will use in, say, a week, then you can cut them up and lay them out on a plate to dry for a couple of days. Store dried herbs in a tightly covered spice container and in a dry cupboard.
If you have a LOT of herbs, like from a lush, full herb garden, or from a bulk buy then you will want longer term storage of herbs that will retain their vibrant green color. Blanching is the perfect solution. Simply blanch and then pop them into the freezer. This is a really nice way to keep herbs on hand for making things like pesto where you want that fresh, colorful experience. I got all of my info on blanching from Chatelaine.You can blanch and freeze both hard and soft herbs. Basically, you bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the herbs in, and flash boil. About 15-30 seconds for tender herbs, and 30-45 seconds for heartier herbs. Spoon out the herbs and immediately run them under very cold water. Drain and dry well.
For a guide on blanching times for specific herbs, check out Chatelaine.
There is another excellent, and very pretty site, with advice on storing herbs. It’s called Jenni Kayne. Check it out if you want to grow your own herbs. Enjoy your meals with year-round fresh herbs!