Monday, May 10, 2010

Storing Fresh Herbs

Once the weather begins to brighten, planting herbs becomes a top priority for me. I have found in the past that herbs are not as fragile as annuals, so frost is much less of a concern (with the exception of basil, which really loves the hottest weather it can get). I am experimenting with some new herbs and vegetables this summer, all planted in containers (city mouse that I am), and all chosen because I know I will actually use them in my meals. I got some beautiful lettuce plants from McSmith’s farm a couple of weeks ago, and they are also doing beautifully.

Over the rainy Mother’s Day weekend, I happened upon the following advice about storing fresh herbs once they are picked, and decided to pass it along. This method will work whether you plant and harvest your own herbs, or you buy them in bunches at the market. Fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, and other fresh herbs can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way.
Let me know how it works for you.

1 Snip off the bottom of the stems.
2 Make sure the leaves are completely dry. Better to hold off rinsing them until you're about to use them.
3 Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the jar. (See the photo above.)
4 If you are storing the herbs in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag. Cilantro loves cool temperatures and should be stored in the refrigerator. Parsley can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. According to experts, basil is ideally stored at room temperature and not in the refrigerator, because it is susceptible to damage from cold.
5 Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.