How To Store Fresh Picked Herbs

garden herbs

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to pick an array of beautiful herbs from a family garden just outside of the city. When I returned home, I had a million and one ideas for using them in some creative dishes, but there was no way that I was going to be able to throw them all together in the next few days. So, the question arose, how do I store this fragrant pineapple sage and fresh basil that had been so cared for in the garden that it stemmed from? I spoke with some garden pros and they shared these tips and tricks for preserving fresh herbs:

Soft Herbs: For soft herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro (basically any herb with a soft leaf), place them in a glass with an inch or two of water and store at room temperature (storing them in the refrigerator will cause them to wilt or turn black). The herbs should last for up to a week and they’ll make your kitchen look and smell amazing.

Hard Herbs: Hard herbs such as rosemary, chives, and thyme can be wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. In order to retain all of their flavor, do not rinse the herbs until right before use.

Drying Herbs: Herbs are generally best and most flavorful when fresh, but if you have more herbs than you know what to do with and are looking to preserve them for a long time, you can dry them. One of the most common techniques  is hang drying. To hang dry herbs, gently wash them with cool water, bunch together like a bouquet and tie with a string. Hang upside down in a well ventilated, dark space. Your herbs should dry within two to three weeks. An alternate way of drying leafy herbs like basil is to remove the leaves from the stem and lay flat on a screen to let dry. Be sure to flip them during the first few days and the leaves should dry in about a week. In both cases, be sure to keep out of sunlight as it will cause the leaves to lose color and flavor.

Freezing Herbs: To freeze herbs, wash and pat dry and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once they have frozen, place them in an airtight container and keep in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.

  • Jane Carlstrom

    Thanks so much for this very nice, clear and concise overview regarding storage of fresh herbs. In “retirement” the husband and I are now selling some produce from our large garden at the farm and a local farmers market. This year for the first time we are offering herbs as well. Will be sharing this great article on facebook to help our friends, guests, customers enjoy herbs to the fullest.

  • Gary Allen

    Here’s a tip for drying herbs: when you hang them, put all the leafy bits inside a paper bag and close the opening with a rubber band. They’ll still dry beautifully and, when it’s time to crumble them up for storage, do it in the bag. Less mess and less waste!