Using fresh herbs is a delicious way to spruce up your cooking with flavor and color. If you have an herb garden, then you can cut herbs and use them at you leisure.
But sometimes the growing season isn’t right for a particular herb or you just might not be able to grow every single herb you want to use. In this case you (like a lot of people) will have to buy fresh herbs from the store or farmer’s market.
Usually the amount sold is more than you need for a recipe, so it’s important to know how to store them properly to get the most out of them. In fact, if you know how to store herbs, then you will be able to use them in different recipes for up to three weeks (depending on the type of herb).
In this guide I will explain how to store fresh cut herbs in your refrigerator so that they keep as long as possible. And also, give you some tips about washing and drying herbs as well as a time table for the shelf life of particular herbs.
How to Determine If Herbs Are Delicate or Hardy
First of all, fresh herbs are either delicate, soft and fragile with thin leaves and very flexible stems, or they are hardy, tougher and sturdy with hard stems and strong leaves.
It’s good to know how to classify herbs so that you can wash and store them without causing damage.
List of some delicate herbs:
List of some hardy herbs:
- bay leaves
Washing and Drying Herbs
Cleaning your herbs before use is a good practice because sometimes your herbs will have dirt, little bugs or bacteria. Washing delicate herbs is slightly different than washing hardy herbs.
Washing Delicate Herbs
With delicate herbs, I usually wait to wash them until just before using them.
Since they are delicate and can lose leaves or get damaged easily, I like to put them in a bowl of fresh filtered water and carefully move them around in the water.
Then I remove them and gently shake out excess water before I place them on a paper towel. I then place another towel over them and pat them dry. They can be store slightly damp but not soaking!
Alternately, you can hold them under the tap to rinse them but make sure your water is coming out at a very low pressure especially if using the sprayer. You don’t want to damage your herbs as it can darken the leaves and even compromise the flavor.
Washing Hardy Herbs
Hardy herbs have strong leaves and woody stems and uphold their structure easily. Therefore, you can rinse these herbs under your faucet without a problem.
To dry them, give them a good shake and spread them out on towels patting them dry with another towel.
Note: If you are not using your herbs fresh and are planning on drying them completely to grind and store it is super important to make sure they are completely dry before long-term storage.
How To Store Fresh Herbs In Your Refrigerator
After washing and drying your herbs you will want to keep your herbs fresh in the refrigerator. The best way to store delicate herbs (if you can’t use them all right away) is to put them in a mason jar of water like flowers in a vase.
1. Begin by filling your jar with a couple inches of water.
2. Place the herbs stem first in the water.
3. Cover the herbs. Place a plastic bag or saran wrap over the jar and secure with a rubber band. If the herbs fit completely inside the jar, then you can just use the lid of your jar to cover the herbs.
4. Place the jar in your refrigerator until use.
Note: Basil is a delicate herb that does not do well in the cold. Follow the steps above for storing basil but place the jar on your counter instead of placing the jar in the refrigerator.
**Refer to the chart below to find out how long your delicate herbs will keep in the refrigerator.
Hardy herbs are best stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp towel. No need to change the towel they are drying on.
1. After rinsing your herbs, lay them on a paper towel in a single layer to dry.
2. Roll up the towel with the herbs. It is OK if the towel is damp just make sure it is not soaking.
3. Place the rolled up herbs and damp towel in a plastic bag
4. Leave the plastic bag unsealed and place in the refrigerator.
How Long Will Herbs Keep
If you follow the directions and store your herbs as suggested your herbs will keep between 1-3 weeks. Refer to the table below to learn just how long each particular herb can be stored and remain usable.
If the leaves start to turn dark, get mushy or if your herbs smell off, it’s likely that they are starting to spoil. Toss in your compost bin, wash your jar out and start fresh!
It’s very fun trying out different herbs in your recipes and hopefully now you will be able to store your fresh cut herbs so that you maximize thier shelf life.
Let me know how it goes for you in the comments below! Or, if you have any questions I will get back to you soon.
See you soon In The Kitchen With Me!
10 thoughts on “How To Store Fresh-Cut Herbs -2 Simple Methods”
Thank you Allie for this great article on how to store fresh-cut herbs. My wife and I have been growing herbs on the balcony of our urban apartment for about three yrs now but still run into all kinds of confusion about how to harvest and use the herbs we’ve grown.
So, the advice you start out with about determining whether the herbs you are dealing with are delicate or hardy is extremely helpful and also a tip that I haven’t read anywhere in the past.
It had never dawned on me to place water in the jar with delicate herbs but makes perfect sense after reading you explanation of putting them stem first into the water.
That is so wonderful that you grow your own herbs! I hope you are able to make your hebs last longer now, a sweet reward for your gardening effort!
great info about how to store fresh-cut herbs! I use a lot of herbs when I cook, primarily fresh parsley and basil leaves but also dried bay leaves, and rosemary. I didn’t know I could place parsley in a jar in the fridge. I just left it as is… Very helpful tips. I pinned and saved the chart on Pinterest.
Glad you found the info helpful. Aren’t herbs the best? Happy cooking!
I put my herbs in mason jars too but had no idea that putting plastic bag over and placing in the fridge will make them last longer! Def trying. Thanks for the info!
Yes it really helps! I had cilantro in my refrigerator for about 3 weeks! Still was crisp and fresh.
Liked the information on herbs. Do you have any ideas on using and storing chives from the garden?
I’m glad you liked the information on the herbs. Chives are best stored like a hardy herb (even though they don’t have stems). Wash the chives gently and leave them on a paper towel to dry. When they are mostly dry and your towel is still damp, roll up the towel with the chives and place them in a ziploc bag in your refrigerator. Remember not to seal the bag. This should keep your chives fresh for 2-3 weeks. Let me know how it goes!
It’s always so frustrating to find herbs in the fridge that are only a few days old that are all wilted. Great tips that I’m going to use! Thanks Allie!
Yes! I’m amazed sometimes at how long I can get my cilantro to last!