Tuesday, March 5, 2013

keeping fresh herbs fresh

In the dormant season, I miss my garden most for the fresh herbs waiting just outside the door. Cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano perennially find their way worked among our flower beds.

I miss them when the growing season comes to a close. Granted, the rosemary, thyme and oregano dry well and keep their zesty flavor when stored in a cupboard. Parsley, too, except I haven't successfully learned the art of drying it ... it usually turns out "chewy." And there's just no point in drying cilantro and basil. I could pesto them, but that takes oil and I stopped using oils, for the most part last year.

So that leaves buying it fresh.

Up until a few months ago, buying it fresh also meant most of it died in the fridge because I couldn't use enough of it before it wilted.

If like me, you bemoan the sight of beautiful fresh herbs wasting away in your refrigerator, there is hope. My mom told me the secret of prolonging the life of cut fresh herbs is to store them in jars of water in the fridge. Brilliant!

Parsley holds up the best (about 2-3 weeks), though it works well for cilantro too (about 2 weeks). Basil only works if you buy "living basil" - the kind with the root still intact.

To keep the herbs at their best, only add enough water to the jar to cover the stems (any leaves in the water turn to a black mucky mess). Periodically check on the water level to make sure the water hasn't evaporated and try trimming the stems as well to encourage the herbs to soak up more water.

And, if anyone knows a great tip for prolonging the life of  basil, please, please share.  

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