How to Store Herbs for the Freshest Flavor

As the “foodie movement” continues to gain in popularity, more and more folks are experimenting with adventurous cuisine and interesting flavors. Herbs are a great way to add zest to your home cooking, in terms of both taste and color. What’s more, many common culinary herbs provide a rich source of Vitamins A and K, as well as valuable antioxidants. Here’s how to make sure they will be at their savory best.

1. The freshest herbs come from your own garden. Interestingly enough, many herbs thrive in less fertile soil and are the perfect planting for a rocky area of your yard. In soil with higher fertility, the plants will tend to produce more leaves that have a less intense flavor. For this reason, you do not need to fertilize. Obviously, you should also avoid dangerous pesticides on any plant which you intend for human consumption.

2. To make it even easier to incorporate fresh herbs into your gourmet preparations, grow them right in your kitchen. Aromatic plants love sunshine and mild temperatures (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit). If you live in an area with extremely cold winters such as upstate New York, you could probably lower your heat while you are out at work as per the advice of your Buffalo HVAC expert. In this case, you may wish to protect your sensitive plants with a heat lamp or heat mat.

3. If you prefer to buy your herbs, the ideal source is a farmers’ market or farm stand. Make sure that they are as fresh as possible. Look for perky, deeply colored leaves with no yellowish or slimy spots.

4. Keep cut herbs in your refrigerator, wrapped in a paper towel. Or stand them in a jar of water, like a bouquet of flowers, making sure to change the water if the herbs are not used up within a few days. Do not wash them until just before use.

5. For longer term storage, freeze herbs. Rinse and dry them well first. They may be frozen as whole stalks, but many people like to make ice cubes of small quantities of minced herbs. These can be conveniently added to a soup or stew, with no last minute prep.

6. Drying is another possibility. Hang bunches of low moisture herbs like oregano upside down to air dry. For herbs with higher levels of moisture such as mint, dry in a dehydrator, a dehumidifier or your oven. Dried herbs will have a more concentrated flavor, so use only one third the amount of fresh. For example, in a recipe that calls for 3 teaspoons of fresh dill, you’ll need only 1 teaspoon of dried. Crumble the leaves before adding to your dish to release the essence and ensure that it is evenly distributed.

7. There are certain steps you can take to prolong the shelf life of dried herbs, whether purchased or home grown. Store in tightly closed containers away from the stove, as the heat can be damaging. Also guard against any source of moisture, such as steam or a damp measuring spoon.

8. Although with proper storage, dried herbs can last a year or more, check regularly to make sure they still have their oomph. A simple sniff test will do the trick. Replace as necessary so that your cooking will continue to pop.

Laura Firszt, Networx.com.

 

102 comments

Tanja W.
Tanja W.about a year ago

thank you:]

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson1 years ago

All good ideas!

Kamia T.
Kamia T.2 years ago

I dry mint between two window screens on my sunny deck. Works excellently! Cover with cheesecloth or a light muslin if you have a pest problem. Also, it used to be that drying herbs hung in almost every kitchen pantry, making sure that the home smelled excellent, instead of funky. I dry lavender that way for the same reason.

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Thank you for the useful information.

I will be drying a couple of herbs this year. Unfortunately, I started my basil too late to make my delicious sourdough, provolone, tomato and basil pannini.

The tomatoes this year are exceptional.

heather g.
heather g.2 years ago

I love herbs and grow a variety during our short summer. They all do well, except for Basil - the herb with my favourite aroma

I


Tara W.
Tara W.2 years ago

Love fresh herbs! They make the simplest meals come alive!

Christina C.
Christina C.2 years ago

Thank you for the tips!

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert2 years ago

Awesome info, forwarded

Tanya W.
Tanya W.2 years ago

Thanks am growing my own herbs.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Thanks!