Simple Ways to Make Your Herbs Last Longer

Keep your herbs fresh for weeks with these simple storage tips.

Fresh herbs are some of our favorite ingredients in the kitchen, for sauces like Pesto and Chimichurri, and dishes like this Spring Herbs Soup with Fregola and Pancetta. But if you’re not careful, they can spoil quickly, and leave you with a bag of green mush. Storing fresh herbs correctly means you can keep them fresher longer, and avoid wasting both food and money. Follow these tips to keep your herbs fresh and ready to use in all your favorite recipes. 

How to store soft, leafy herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint, and basil

Storing fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint, and basil can be tricky because they have a tendency to wilt quickly. The secret for making soft fresh herbs last is as simple as a small glass of water.

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First, properly clean and prep your herbs to ensure their longevity. Remove the twist tie or rubber band holding the herbs in bunches, so they can breathe. Then run them under the tap, gently shaking off any dirt. After they are clean, dry the herbs with a clean dish towel or with a salad spinner. Make sure to remove as much water as possible to prevent the growth of surface bacteria and dirt. 

Once your herbs are properly cleaned and dried, trim the bottom half inch from the stems and gather them into little bundles. Place them upright in a jar or container filled with about 1 to 2 inches of water, making sure no leaves touch the water. Once you have assembled your bouquet, place a clear plastic bag over the top of the leaves. Store cilantro, parsley, and mint in the refrigerator. Basil is best kept on the counter but in indirect sunlight (you don’t want your basil to get warm).

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With this bouquet method, your herbs will stay fresher for weeks instead of just days. The moisture from the water helps hydrate and refresh the herbs, preventing them from wilting too soon. 

How to best store hardier herbs like rosemary, dill, sage, thyme, chives, and oregano

While the soft herbs are more delicate, hardier herbs like rosemary, dill, sage, thyme, chives, and oregano, have a bit more flexibility and do not dry out as easily. 

Though hardier herbs can also be kept fresh with a glass of water, the best way to store them is to loosely wrap them in a damp paper towel and keep them in a tightly sealed container or reusable bag in the fridge to prevent oxygen from entering and the leaves from wilting. As the paper towels dry out, make sure to re-moisten them. 

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If your fresh herbs are properly cared for, they can last up to two to three weeks. To regulate moisture and make the most of these tips, consider dividing your herbs into smaller batches and storing them separately.

Freeze herbs to make them last even longer

If you want to keep herbs even longer, freeze them. To freeze hardy herbs, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a labeled, resealable freezer bag. You can also portion out smaller amounts and wrap them in plastic wrap, then store them in a freezer bag for use. 

To freeze more tender herbs, blend them with a couple tablespoons of oil or water and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray or freezer bag. These frozen herbs can last for several months in the freezer, giving you a taste of summer gardens even in the depths of winter. 

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