Best way to fly fresh herbs?
July 15, 2017 9:50 AM   Subscribe

In a few days I'll be going to Lofoten (Norway) to meet family there for the first time. I'm in France, and have a garden full of herbs – basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, and lavender. I would like to cut a bunch of these herbs and fly them up along with me. What would be the best way to do so? I'll only be in Lofoten 24 hours after cutting them.

- Cut them the same day?
- Cut them now and dry them?
- Another option?
posted by fraula to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
Cut as soon before you leave as possible. Wrap the roots/stems in a wet paper towel or two, then put them all in a closed ziplock bag. Try to keep cool in transit (with an ice pack if you're zealous and nothing in particular if you're not).
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:55 AM on July 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would make sure if you go the ice pack route that the herbs are in no way touching the ice pack. The herbs could end up with frost damage. But I've done the paper towel trick and driven to my parents' house seven hours away, it worked quite well. If they wilt on the plane, cut an inch or so of the stem off and put them in water to rehydrate.
posted by Bistyfrass at 10:20 AM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

As the others say, cut at the last minute and wrap in wet paper towel, then into a zip-top bag, and I would also lightly dampen another paper towel to put down one side of the bag just to keep the humidity up. When you seal the bag, leave enough air in it that it would be difficult to crush the herbs through the bag but also not going to make the bag pop as soon as there's any pressure on it. (And I have no idea if this is scientifically sound, but my inclination would be to lightly inflate the bag with a puff of breath rather than only room air, for the carbon dioxide.) You may want to open the bag after the flying segment of your travel.

They will probably be lightly wilty by the time you get there, but try putting them in very cold water for a bit. You're still going to have lots of fresh oils in the herbs, they may just not look perfect anymore.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would then put the ziploc in a Tupperware box to avoid it getting squashed in your suitcase. Have a great trip!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:18 AM on July 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you checked to make sure you can transport plants across these borders? Many countries have restrictions.
posted by underthehat at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

Rosemary and lavender you can probably cut earlier and wrap in a napkin or towel (don't need to keep wet). The basil and mint you should cut just before and keep the ends of the stems wet (if you can put them in a vase-type situation for at least part of the time that's even better). Not sure about oregano, but keeping it wet is probably a safe bet.

Rosemary and lavender dry very well and don't wilt. Mint and basil don't dry well at all and will wilt like mad. Oregano is OK dried but I think very different fresh, and I'm not sure about wiltiness.
posted by mskyle at 11:35 AM on July 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cut herbs are OK to Norway under a limit: Norwegian customs - fruit, vegetables, plants, flowers, and seeds.

Barring certain endangered species, plants are also OK within EU countries.

These are all great ideas, thank you! I've got a way to keep the basil and mint from being crushed and will be in a hotel the first evening, so can put them in a cup of water before flying further north the next morning.

I'm less worried about the rosemary and lavender, yes – it's gotten hot enough that they're drying out on their own. My oregano is getting into its woody stage as well so will probably be fine, though less tasty than earlier in the season.
posted by fraula at 11:47 AM on July 15, 2017

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