Have you ever had trouble keeping herbs fresh? Here are our tips to keep them at their best for longer
Herbs are one of the fundamental pillars of good cooking. They add a level of vibrancy, depth of flavour and freshness to food that is unmatched by any other ingredient. But sometimes, it can seem impossible to stop them from becoming a slimy mess in your fridge after a few days. The good news is that they’re actually pretty easy to store in the fridge (and freezer!) once you understand what type of herb you’re dealing with.
KNOW YOUR HERB
Herbs can be split into two categories: soft herbs and woody herbs.
• Soft herbs (such as coriander, parsley, basil and mint) tend to have bright green leaves and edible stems. These herbs should be added at the end of cooking or chopped up as a fresh garnish to preserve their delicate flavours. Parsley and coriander stems can be reserved to add vibrancy to soups and stocks.
• Woody herbs include rosemary, thyme, sage, bay and oregano. The stems are inedible, or woody, and the leaves are removed from the stems. These herbs can take more intense cooking than soft herbs, and are best used at the start of the cooking process. They work very well in stews and roasts.
Wash and dry
Once you’ve purchased or picked your herbs, always wash them to remove any lingering grit or bacteria that may compromise their longevity. Run them under cold water, then lay them out on a clean kitchen towel to dry completely. Residual moisture causes fresh herbs to spoil more easily, and become slimy in some cases, so dry them thoroughly.
Storing in the fridge
For soft herbs, remove any damaged leaves and snip off the bottom centimetre from the stems. Then, like a vase of flowers, place them in a large jar filled with a little water, making sure that no leaves are submerged in the water. Cover with a light packet and store in the fridge, changing the water every few days. Basil is the only exception – it is more susceptible to cold damage, so it prefers to be stored at room temperature. Woody herbs are less fussy. Either place them in a container in the fridge or, even better, bundle them in a damp kitchen towel and plastic wrap.
Storing in the Freezer
To make sure you always have fresh herbs available, chop up soft herbs and place them in an ice-cube tray. Top up with a splash of oil, and freeze. Once solid, you can keep them in a ziplock bag. To use, just chuck a frozen herb block in your pot and let the flavours melt into your dish. Woody herbs are far less fussy! They can be stored in the freezer in their kitchen towel bundle like in the fridge – just place them in a sealable bag to prevent frost damage.
Words by Kirsty Buchanan
With a stigma of it being scary and stressful, caramel is actually fairly simple to make when you understand the process.