Ok, so how do we go from wilty herbs five hours after picking them to herbs still holding strong weeks later? The answer is proper storage! Its not enough to throw them in the crisper or in my house, the “veggie” drawer. They must be stored correctly if you want to get the most life out of them.
First, what herb are you trying to store?
There are different types of herbs; tender and hardy. Tender herbs include cilantro, parsley, dill, and parsley to name a few. They have softer, more tender stems than hardy herbs. Hardy herbs include rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. These herbs, as you know, have a harder, more woody stem than the tender herbs. It’s absolutely crucial to know which category your herb falls into.
Trying to store a hardy herb?
Then you’re in luck! It’s so easy to keep that delicious lemon thyme fresh for weeks. The best way to store a hardy herb is to dampen a small towel or cheesecloth with water (you can also use a paper towel but we try not to, read how to save money on your homestead here) and roll the herbs in a single layer inside of the towel. Then store this in an airtight bag inside the fridge. Most hardy herbs will last 2-3 weeks with proper storage.
Or do you have a tender herb?
Guess what? You’re still in luck, this is also extremely easy! Tender herbs like to be stored upright with some water. When you bring your herbs in from outside they can go into a mason jar or other tall container with a few inches of water in the bottom. The base of the stem should be in the water, keep the herbs straight up and seal the container with either a bag or a lid. Most tender herbs will last 3 weeks stored like this.
Watch out for these sneaky freshness thieves!
There are a few things that will turn your fresh herbs wilty, brown, and slimy faster than a golden retriever will eat food dropped on the floor.
- Too much moisture. Herbs that are too wet and stored in an airtight bag can easily become slimy in no time.
- Too little moisture. This is a secret killer. This will dry your herbs out pretty quickly reducing flavor and quality of texture. This shouldn’t happen if you follow the instructions on storing your herb properly!
- Too much light. Storing tender, thin leafed herbs in direct sunlight can easily cause wilting and yellowing within just a few days. To prevent this store in a relatively dark spot like the refrigerator.
As you can see this is a delicate dance of light, but not too light. Cold, but not freezing. Wet, but not too wet. But don’t worry, this is all going to come together perfectly to create the freshest, most delicious herbs you’ve ever had!