Fresh herbs are one of my favorite plants to grow in my garden, especially the herbs that are easy to grow. When the growing season ends, I still want to make my favorite recipes using fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary. And these ideas for how to store fresh herbs longer help to keep them from going bad so quickly.
I love cooking with fresh herbs. Which is why I always have some growing in my garden in the summer. (Find out my favorite easy-to-grow herbs HERE).
But this time of year, it’s a little too cold for most herbs to be outside.
So I end up buying pre-packaged fresh herbs at the grocery store. I stuff them into the vegetable bin in the refrigerator and most of them go bad before I’ve had a chance to use them up.
Well, this year I decided to see if there’s some way to keep fresh herbs around longer. Both after I have picked them from the garden and when I have bought them from the store.
And it turns out there is! Actually, there’s more than one way to store fresh herbs depending on the type of plant, so keep reading to find out the best ways to store fresh herbs.
Note: If you are using store-bought herbs, the length of time that they will stay fresh does vary somewhat depending on how long they had been sitting on the shelf at the store.
How To Store Fresh Parsley, Cilantro or Mint
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For herbs that have soft stems, like parsley, cilantro or mint, the trick is to treat them like cut flowers.
To start, cut a bit off the end of the stems.
If the leaves are wet, dry them thoroughly with a paper towel, or put them through a cycle in a lettuce spinner.
Wet leaves will go bad quickly. For that reason, I don’t rinse the herbs until I’m just about to use them.
Then fill a glass part way up with water and put the stems in it. Make sure there aren’t any leaves in the water.
Cover the whole thing loosely with a plastic bag. The kind that you get at the grocery store to put your vegetables in works well for this.
Don’t tuck the bag in. It should be open at the bottom to let the herbs breathe.
Finally, put the plastic-covered glass with the herbs on a shelf in the refrigerator.
Change the water every few days to keep the parsley, cilantro or mint looking fresh as long as possible.
Although I haven’t tried it, you should be able to use this method to keep any herbs with soft stems fresh, like dill or tarragon.
This bunch of Cilantro has been stored in my fridge this way for 2 weeks and it still looks as good as the day I bought it.
How To Store Fresh Basil
Because of its aversion to cold, storing fresh basil is similar but slightly different than parsley, cilantro or mint…but it is even easier!
Cut a bit off the stems and put them in a glass filled part way with water like you would with the other soft stemmed herbs.
Some people say you should cover the basil with a light plastic bag (like a produce bag), but I didn’t see much difference in the herb’s longevity with or without it.
Then leave it out on your countertop or table somewhere. That’s it!
The Basil leaves tend to turn black if you put them in a cold refrigerator, so storing them at room temperature is the way to go.
Again, make sure that the leaves are dry, since they will go bad much faster if they’re wet.
Fresh basil should stay fresh and green for a week or two using this method.
I’ve read that you can also store parsley this way. I haven’t tried, but if you don’t have much shelf space available in your refrigerator, you might want to. (And be sure to let us know in the comments below how it worked).
How To Store Fresh Thyme or Oregano
For herbs that have more wiry stems, like thyme and oregano, the stems in a glass of water trick doesn’t work so well. But you can still make them last longer.
Like all of the other herbs, start by making sure the leaves are dry. I don’t rinse the Thyme or Oregano until right before I’m going to use them either.
Moisten a paper towel with water so that it is damp but not dripping wet.
Wrap it loosely around the Thyme or Oregano.
Put the whole bundle into a ziploc bag or airtight container.
Push any extra air out of the bag before you close it.
If you have more than one type of herb that you’re storing this way, you might want to write the name of the herb on the outside of the bag so you can tell what’s in it without having to open it.
Then store the Thyme or Oregano in the refrigerator.
You should be able to keep the wiry stemmed herbs fresh for at least two weeks this way.
How To Store Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Rosemary is actually one of the easiest herbs to store for a long time.
After making sure the rosemary leaves and stems are dry, put them in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.
Push as much air out of the bag as you can and seal it.
Then stick it in the freezer.
The rosemary comes out of the freezer looking, smelling and tasting just like it did when you put it in there!
It will keep for a few weeks like this without losing its flavor.
If you don’t want to freeze rosemary for whatever reason, it can also be stored in the refrigerator like Thyme or Oregano. But it will only last for a couple of weeks before the leaves start to turn black.