Storing Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in a barely damp paper towel and sealed airtight in a plastic bag for up to 7 days. For longer storage, up to 14 days (depending on the herb), place the bouquet of herbs, stem end down, in a tall screw- top jar or glass, fill jar with cold water until the ends are covered for about 1 inch. Cover the jar and seal tightly or top of the bouquet with a plastic bag, and secure it to the glass with a rubber band. The water should be changed every 2 days. Just before using, wash the herbs and blot dry with a paper towel.

Dried Herbs

Dried herbs are available year-round in cellophane packages, plastic, metal or cardboard boxes, bottles, and unglazed ceramic pots. The more airtight the storage container, the longer the herbs will last. Each time you use the herb, make sure the lid is tightly resealed.

Some dried herbs have a stronger, more concentrated flavor than fresh herbs, but quickly lose their pungency. Because of that it is good idea to leave the herbs on their stems, and if you don't have jars large enough, at least keep the leaves intact. When herbs are crushed, their essential oils are released, which you want to do only when ready to use them.

Some herbs, such as parsley, dill and chives, don't retain their flavor when they dry. these should be frozen. They'll be quite limp when thawed, so they can't be used as garnish but they can still add flavor to sauces, soups and stews.

Crushed or ground herbs become lackluster more quickly than whole herbs.

Real Cooking

Did You Know?
A herb is a plant that is valued for flavor, scent, or other qualities. Herbs are used in cooking, as medicines, and for spiritual purposes.

When it comes to storing dry herbs, the worst place to store herbs is in those little glass jars over the stove.

The glass jars are fine, but dried herbs should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place for a maximum of 12 months. After 3 to 4 months, it is best to refrigerate them.

Some culinary herbs are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both a spice and a herb, such as dill seed and dill weed or coriander seeds and coriander leaves.