It can be frustrating when your lovingly purchased fresh herbs
go bad before you’ve used them up. Here are some storage
tips to make them last longer:
• Basil, cilantro, mint and parsley are four leafy herbs that taste
better fresh than dried. They keep particularly well for several
days with their stems in water like bouquets of flowers. Trim
the bottom of the stems. Fill a jar or a water glass with an
inch or two of water and place the stem ends of the herbs
into the water in the jar. Change the water every day or two.
• Basil may get damaged by the cold and is ideally
stored at room temperature. Cilantro keeps best in the
refrigerator. Parsley and mint can be stored in or out of
the fridge. If you are storing leafy herbs in the refrigerator,
cover the tops loosely with a plastic bag with some
holes punched in it. The holes in the bag will allow some
moisture out, because moisture trapped in a plastic bag
can cause the herbs to go bad quicker. Be careful not to
knock over the water containers.
• Woodier herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage should
be wrapped loosely in paper towels and placed in a zip top
bag. Store your bag of herbs in the refrigerator’s “crisper
drawer” (also called the produce drawer). Avoid colder
spots like the rear of the lower shelf. Stored properly,
fresh herbs will last from a few days to more than a week.
Woody herbs keep longer than leafy ones. They also hold
onto more flavor when dried.
• Consider growing an herb garden. All you need is a
container, soil, sunlight, water, and plants or seeds. A
windowsill, inside or out, is area enough. Mint, rosemary,
thyme and oregano are hearty and easy to grow. Just snip
off the amount you need.
SPICES AND DRIED HERBS
• Avoid using prepackaged seasoning mixes because they
often contain a lot of salt. Many herb and spice blends are
fine though. Check the Nutrition Facts label for sodium.
• Dried herbs and spices don’t have an indefinite shelf life.
Check your dried herbs and spices now, and toss anything
that no longer smells like what it’s supposed to be. Store in
a dark, dry place away from heat sources, such as stoves
or appliances. Avoid keeping a spice rack above or too
close to the stove.
OTHER FLAVOR ENHANCERS
• Use vinegar or citrus juice to perk up flavors, but add them
at the last moment. Vinegar is great on hot and cold greens
for example. Lemon and lime juice compliment papaya and
mango, which are great with fish.
• Feelin’ hot, hot, hot? To add a real kick to your dishes, add
some fresh hot peppers. Remove the stems, membranes
(skins) and seeds, and then finely chop them up. A little
goes a long way. You can grind up dried hot peppers in
blender or coffee grinder to make fresh chili powder. Or,
try canned chilies, like smoky chipotles. After you use one
or two in a recipe, you can freeze the rest. Lay them on
a plate and freeze them separately. Then put the frozen
chilies in a bag for storage.
• Some vegetables and fruits, such as mushrooms,
tomatoes, cherries, cranberries and currants have a more
intense flavor when dried than when fresh. Add them for a
burst of flavor. Read the ingredients list to select dried fruits
without added sugars.
Herbs and spices are at the heart of most of
the world’s best cuisines. There’s no better
way to add excitement and depth to your
healthy at-home dishes. Whether you use
them dried or fresh, these flavor boosters
will take your recipes to a new level.