Cooking with fresh herbs, growing your own little herb garden, and even just buying fresh herbs from your local market are exciting ways to add a little spice to your life. But if you are going to have them around the house, you need to know how to store fresh herbs, so they do not go to waste.
You need to first decide whether they are tender herbs or hardy herbs, also known as wooden stem herbs. Hardy herbs can be kept in the refrigerator; no extra water is needed until they are ready to use. Tender herbs can be kept in a vase or a jar of fresh water in the refrigerator if you are going to use them within a few days.
If you have a plethora of fresh herbs around your house and you know you will not be able to use them all before they spoil, we will give you a few tips on how to keep herbs fresher longer. We are also going to talk about common mistakes people make when storing fresh herbs and how to tell if your herbs have gone bad.
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How to Store Fresh Herbs Properly
There are many ways to properly store fresh herbs. As we already mentioned, you can wash your tender herbs, pat them dry, and keep them in a mason jar of water in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
You can also buy an herb saver container if you prefer to use those instead of mason jars. If you keep them in the fridge for more than two or three days, be sure to change out the water and add clean water to keep them fresh.
- The Prep Solutions Fresh Herb Keeper stores and hydrates fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro or rosemary in the refrigerator. It keeps herbs fresh for 2 times longer than traditional methods.
- The Herb Keeper has an integrated basket that lifts the herbs from the container with ease when the lid is open.
- The Prep Solutions Herb Keeper also works great for keeping asparagus fresh and hydrated when filling with water to the marked water line. Depending on size it can typically fit 1/2 a bundle.
If you are going to store your hardy herbs in the fridge, these are even easier because you can simply wash them off, pat them dry, and store them in a zip lock baggy. For extra freshness, you can put a damp paper towel in the bag too.
If you have too many herbs to use within a few weeks’ time, you are going to need alternative ways of keeping your herbs fresh. You can either freeze your herbs so they are still similar to freshly picked herbs when you thaw them, or you can dry them to extend their shelf life.
How to Freeze Herbs
If you want to freeze your tender herbs, the best option is to pick the leaves off or short sprigs and put them in an ice cube tray with water, oil, or even a broth of your choice, then pop them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
If you plan to freeze hardy herbs, you can store them in a plastic freezer baggy in the freezer. Make sure the baggy is sealed well to help prevent freezer burn.
If you feel like you are being overrun with herbs, or you would like to save some for the winter months, you can dry your herbs. There are different techniques, but the two main options for drying herbs are in an oven at the lowest temperature. This works best for tender herbs.
Or you can airdry your herbs by tying them up with string and hanging them in a warm place to dry. This works best for hardy herbs, but you can do it for tender herbs as well.
How Long Can Fresh Herbs Be Stored?
Most tender herbs will remain fresh in the refrigerator for two to three weeks if you keep the water clean by changing it regularly.
Hardy herbs can also last between one and three weeks in the refrigerator. It is recommended that you wrap them in a paper towel to get them to last this long and rinse or replace the paper towel every few days to ensure freshness.
This is not true for all herbs, and it depends on how quickly they went from being picked to being stored, but these are typical average times for storing herbs in the refrigerator.
For herbs stored in the freezer, both tender and hardy herbs will usually keep for three to six months.
If you choose to dry your herbs, dried herbs have the longest shelf life if they are stored properly in an airtight container away from moist environments. Dried tender herbs can last between two and three years, and hardy herbs can last between two and four years.
How to Tell if Fresh Herbs have Gone Bad
Just because your herbs look a little wilted does not mean they have gone bad. If there is mold growing on them or they had turned black when you were not trying to try them in the oven, then they have probably gone bad.
If your herbs are a little on the limp side, but they are not moldy or slimy, you can still wash them and use them for cooking. They may not be the best for garnish or on top of a salad if they are not crisp, but they go great in soups, stir-fries, and other delicious dishes you want to spice up with some fresh, herby flavors.
Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Fresh Herbs
There are common mistakes people make when storing fresh herbs. Here are a few and some tips on avoiding these mistakes:
Incorrect Storage Method
Remember, there are two types of herbs: tender and hardy. If you store hardy herbs in a jar of water, they may get soggy before you use them. If you wrap tender herbs in a paper towel for a few days, they will get limp. Make sure you choose the correct method for your herb type.
Exposure to Heat
Be careful not to expose your herbs to heat until you are ready to cook with them. Unnecessary heat can cause your herbs to wilt and dry out before you are ready to use them.
Keep Your Fresh Herbs Fresh!
Fresh herbs are great for making dishes extra special. With options of refrigerating, freezing, or drying your herbs, you can have fresh herbs at home year-round! Know your herbs types: tender and hardy. This is the most important thing to remember when choosing your storage method.