It is undeniable herbs and spices are crucial to a flavourful meal and a wide variety can be found in every kitchen. Not only do they taste great, but they have a high medicinal purpose as well….and they can be found literally everywhere. Grow them yourself on your windowsill, in your garden, even inside the kitchen for a sustainable version. If you have the knowledge, you can also go on a walk and find plenty of edible herbs in your surroundings. But for the one that needs it fast and convenient, buying cut herbs at the market is the easiest option. If you don't store them properly, they can go bad really fast. We like to use a lot of fresh herbs, because they benefit not only your tastebuds but also your health. However, making sure they keep fresh throughout the process of sourcing, packing, delivery and eventually in your home, has been a journey of trial and error for us. Herbs are divided into soft and hard herbs and depending on that they need a different way of storing. There are hundreds of ways of storing them and in the end you have to find what works best for you.
Here are our hacks for increasing the shelf life of herbs:
What the heck are soft herbs, you may ask? Well if you take a look at parsley, coriander, mint, basil and dill, which are the most common we use for our dishes, their leaves are quite soft. They bend and wilt fast. Almost like flowers, and they need to be treated like them as well. Cut off 1cm of the stem of parsley, coriander and mint, so they can absorb the nutrients and store them upright in a glass filled with about 2cm of water, making sure only to cover the stems. Soft herbs react to oxygen, that is why it is so important to cover them with a paper bag enough so that air can circulate. Place them in the fridge and they stay fresh for weeks. Basil stays fresh, placed in an airtight container and stored at room temperature. Just like basil, dill needs to be placed in an airtight container, however wrap the stems with a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture and store them in the fridge. There is one last thing you need to keep in mind: soft herbs are added at the end of the cooking process to ensure flavour and form.
Hard herbs like rosemary, bay leaves, thyme and sage are characterised by their hard, woody stems. They need to be placed in a damp paper towel and stored in the fridge. Because of their sturdiness, they can be added in the beginning of cooking. They keep their flavour and form throughout the prolonged cooking process. Rosemary and bay leaves especially are a great addition to stews with or without meat. They can unfold their full potential and make your meal really flavourful.
Did your herbs go bad regardless?
Unless your herbs are mouldy, there is no reason to throw them away right away. They can be given a second chance by adding them to your broth, freezing them as herbal ice-cubes or making infused oils and vinegar.
Try it out and go on your own trial-and-error-journey. Because this is what works for us, in our kitchen. Maybe you have to find for yourself your perfect way of storing your herbs. In any case, don’t shy away from adding herbs to your meal and elevate your cooking skills.
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