What's the best way to store fresh herbs?
May 29, 2016 12:56 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to store store-bought fresh herbs so they last the longest? I usually have cilantro/coriander, scallion, mint, basil (Thai, holy, and Italian), and occasionally sawtooth coriander and Chinese chives on hand.

I'm not looking for long-term preservation suggestions, e.g. drying/freezing, but how to make these herbs last, say, 5-7 days without going bad. I'm also not interested in grow-your-own suggestions (I may try it this summer, but it's not something I am going to depend on all year-round).

If it matters, I live in New York City in an apartment without AC but with heating.
posted by andrewesque to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wash and spin dry as needed. Wrap loosely in a couple layers of damp paper towel. That's been the most effective technique I've been taught in restaurants. NB: damp, not wet.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


fffm (so fast!!): Do the herbs need to be bone-dry before wrapping in the paper towel (I guess if it's damp they don't have to be?) and once they're in the paper towel do I just stick them like that into the fridge, or slip them into a plastic bag? Thank you!
posted by andrewesque at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2016


SeriousEats did an article on herb storage last year. We've been using the mason-jar-with-a-Ziploc-bag-over-it technique since then, and our cilantro/parsley often stay good for 2 weeks or more. For hardy herbs (e.g. thyme, rosemary), the paper-towel-roll technique seems to work just fine.
posted by staraling at 1:02 PM on May 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


The paper towel trick is amazingly effective. Yes, I put the herbs and pt's in a plastic bag, the plastic box they came in, or a ziplock-type thing.
posted by about_time at 1:03 PM on May 29, 2016


I do what fffm says above. Then, when they're getting to the point where they're not going to last in the fridge much longer, you can layer the leaves of any of those (with the possible exception of cilantro) like cigars, wrap them in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer. When you want to use some, cut off as much as you need, then back into the freezer.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2016


Do the herbs need to be bone-dry before wrapping in the paper towel (I guess if it's damp they don't have to be?)

Nah, just not dripping. Slightly moist is fine.

and once they're in the paper towel do I just stick them like that into the fridge, or slip them into a plastic bag?

Where I learned this technique we would just stack the (labeled) rolls like cigars in a plastic bin in the walk-in, loosely covered. Ziploc is fine, a plastic bin with a lid also fine.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2016


I treat them like fresh flowers: trim the ends and stand them in a jar of water in the fridge. They last at least a week that way.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:30 PM on May 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cilantro is my nemesis for storage. Basil and mint you can just put in a glass on the windowsill, with water.

Scallions--I put them in a tall jar, like the kind used for pasta sauce, with about two inches of water, cover them with the plastic bag from the supermarket (loosely, not fussily) and they last for ages compared to just throwing them in the crisper.

Alternatively, for any, paper towel, soaked, squeezed out firmly, wrapping any above, will at least help.

Cilantro, though, yeesh. I'm considering just freezing it in lime juice so it's roughly ready for the applications and then just living with the gross texture.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:26 PM on May 29, 2016


(Scallions: I mean in the refrigerator -- any of these would probably do better in the refrigerator, but scallions specifically live there in our house.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:28 PM on May 29, 2016


I have better luck with rolling cilantro in a damp washcloth than I do with cutting their stems and storing them like flowers in water in the fridge.
posted by aniola at 3:59 PM on May 29, 2016


Yeah, I do a variation of fffm's technique: wash, spread out on a towel to mostly air dry (no spinner), then go thru and scrupulously pick out (or immediately use) any broken stems, iffy leaves, gross stuff. I trim off most of the stems, roll them up loosely in damp paper towels, and and store them in one of those oblong Glad of Ziploc brand storage boxes. That then goes in my fridge veg drawer — it keeps the herbs from getting mushed by the brawnier veggies. Mostly this is Italian parsley and cilantro. IME, I have to be totally anal about picking out any bits that aren't perfect, though, or those bits will rot first and take the rest of the bunch down with them.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:31 PM on May 29, 2016


To add: these are the type of containers I'm talking about.

Also: even though I mostly store parsley and cilantro this way (they last about 2 weeks), I've also stored things like thyme, dill, and chives the same way (but only in the winter, when they're not actively growing in my garden).
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:39 PM on May 29, 2016


(Also also: poor sentence construction above, I do not immediately use the gross bits.)
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:44 PM on May 29, 2016


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