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Keep Herbs Alive!

Supermarket herbs suck! There, I said it. I am talking about those plastic clamshell casings filled with about an once of “fresh” herbs for $2.99. They are enormously expensive and rarely any good. And don’t get me started on the tiny glass jars of dried herbs, which are (with some exceptions) utterly useless. The fact is fresh herbs are really the only way to go if you want the vibrant taste of the garden in your cooking. Thankfully, being right in the middle of summer, this is an ideal time to be growing and harvesting everything from basil to lovage, and despite what you may think, growing herbs in pots is relatively easy. But sadly, for much of the country, growing year round herbs outdoors proves to be more challenging than not.

That is why, if you are in fact growing your own herbs, that you should be out in the garden right now clipping and preserving as much as nature provides. My stepmother had a pretty ingenious way of keeping herbs fresh in the freezer for months at a time, and below is a video (not by my stepmother) that replicates her technique (although she added a bit of water as not to have the herbs dry out):

If you are not that much of a planner and just want to keep your fresh herbs vital as long as humanly possible, you can do the following: Arrange your herbs in a sort of bouquet and cut a bit off the stems. Make sure the leaves are totally dry and then partially fill a jar with water and put your bouquet (stems down) into the water, being careful that the leaves are not submerged. Most herbs like to be at room temperature, but cilantro does better in the fridge with a loose plastic bag covering. Remember to change the water every few days before it begins to discolor. Follow these directions and you can maintain your herbs for two weeks or more.

Do you have any herb preservation tips? If so, please share.

Related:
9 Healing Herbs to Cook With
7 Giant Herbs You Can Grow at Home
Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce

Read more: Basics, Blogs, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Green, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, Videos, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

51 comments

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6:51AM PDT on Apr 15, 2013

Good idea. Thanks for sharing.

9:21PM PST on Feb 10, 2013

Thanks

5:22PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Good tips, which i use already - but i did learn something about Cialantro, which i've always had a hard time keeping...
Thanks!

5:41AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Thanks.

3:11AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Good to know about leaving the jar on the counter. I've been putting it in the fridge with poor results. Thanks

12:38AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

Great idea. I have a very bountiful and robust basil plant( I love it for my tomato, basil, and provolone panninis). I don't want it to just go to waste when growing season is over. I picked up some pretty good tips for preserving my tomatoes on this website as well.

5:50PM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

I love herbs

3:46PM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

I have several herbs growing in my garde as companion plants/bug repellants. When the season is over, I plan to grow herbs on my windowsill.

11:26AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Great information! I have been trying to grow parsley but I have some caterpllers who seem to think that I planted it for their enjoyment! While I don't mind sharing a little - they munch it down to the ground! I don't want to spray them as that seems to defeat the purpose of growing my own herbs! Does anyone have any ideas?

7:17AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

thanks Eric

i read a book a decade or more ago i think called Pyramid Power ( max toth and greg nielsen) - i think the experiments on possibly boosting herb preservation (if i remember correctly) are possibly worth considering (im not endorsing it as a preservation technique, just a headsup)

A more common spiritual technique for food (not preservation but spiritual purification of it) is constantly chanting a heartfelt mantra whilst preparing the food (silently from the heart if you want e.g.: "buddha" or "krishna" or "jesus" or "allah" to start) - i definately think the food is palpably tastier as a side effect.

Another idea is making food "prasad" - sincerely (silently in a non showy way) offering the essence of the food to the divine or a deity you like before eating it - apparently the deities blessing will then possibly reside in the food. I know its not preservation, but i think its worth considering prasad food as it is claimed to purify the food spiritually.

i think the chanting and prasad methods are way more important than the pyramid technique, and i dont use the pyramid technique, just the chanting and prasad methods (for energy purification not preservation). Google to find out more.

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