Thursday, July 9, 2015

How to Store Fresh Herbs for Maximum Flavor & Shelf Life

You’ve tended your herb garden over the past few months - watering, weeding and pruning and now you’re ready to reap the rewards and harvest your bounty. But you may be wondering “what’s the best way to store them?”

We’ve compiled a handy guide on how to store a variety of fresh herbs for maximum flavor and shelf life. There are three main methods used: freezing, drying and keeping fresh. Learn which method is best for your favorite herbs.

Best Herbs to Dry

  • bay, oregano, rosemary and thyme

Herbs that have low moisture content are going to be best. Drying fresh herbs will keep them up to a year.

How to Dry Fresh Herbs

Begin by removing any dry or dead leaves. Rinse with cool water and quickly but gently pat dry with paper towels. Trim off the lower leaves along the bottom inch of the branch. Bundle anywhere from 4-6 branches together and tie with string. Next, cut several holes in a paper bag. Place the bundle upside down in the bag. Gather the ends of the bag and tie it closed. Hang upside down in a warm, dry room. It should take about two weeks for your herbs to fully dry.

Once they are dry storing them is a cinch! Label small canning jars and place the herbs inside. Storing them in airtight containers will help retain flavor. Keep leaves whole and crush them when you’re ready to use.

Remember that dried herbs are going to more potent than their fresh counterparts, so you can use less when substituting for fresh herbs in recipes.

Best Herbs to Freeze

  • chives, mint and tarragon

Preserving herbs that have high moisture content are going to be a little trickier because they’re more susceptible to molding. Freezing these herbs will help them keep their flavor and will bypass the mold problem.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs

First, make sure to pick only the freshest, healthiest plants. Rinse leaves with cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Next, spread the leaves on a cookie sheet so they are not touching or over-lapping. Cover with plastic wrap and into the freezer overnight. Once frozen, place the leaves into a labeled freezer bag. Frozen herbs will stay fresh for several months.

Best Herbs to Keep Fresh

  • basil, parsley and cilantro

For herbs that are traditionally incorporated into dishes in their fresh state, simply clean and store in the fridge or on the counter until you are ready to use.

How to Store Fresh Herbs in the Fridge or on the Counter

Start by rinsing them with cool water, shake gently to remove moisture and pat dry with paper towels. Grab a medium-sized jar and fill it with a few inches of water. Place the stem end of the herbs into the water and loosely cover the jar with plastic wrap. If you’re storing cilantro, keep it in the fridge. Parsley and basil should be left on your countertop since room temperature is ideal for them. Fresh herbs will last up to two weeks when stored properly.

Do you have any tips or tricks that work well for you? Share with us in the comments below. Happy noshing!

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