Tips for Storing Fresh Herbs

SimplySmartDinnerPlans  subscriber Stephanie asks:

“I love your free meal plans! Can you give some instruction on what to do with fresh herbs? I found myself looking up cooking with tarragon or cilantro. That’s probably so basic to you, that you wouldn’t give it a second thought, but some of us are just making our baby steps.”

Great question! Let’s look at two videos that cover basic steps for using fresh herbs, but first off, why should we use fresh herbs when the dried, bottled stuff is so convenient?

My personal opinion, based on my own experience and taste-buds, is that fresh anything is always better. The flavor is brighter in fresh ingredients and the aroma really pops. You can use both, but with fresh herbs you would want to add them right before you’re done cooking, sometime during the last five minutes. The are generally better if chopped, as cutting them makes more surface area and releases the water they contain.

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My rule for all food is that fresh is best, there are, however, always exceptions. While you can’t make pesto with dried basil, likewise if you’re making a spice rub for meat you need to use dried ingredients like spices and dried herbs, because the fresh versions will tend to burn and create an off-putting flavor.

Fresh herbs, typically, will be more expensive, unless you grow your own.

So, if you have a recipe that calls for dried herbs, and want to use fresh, the usual substitution ratio is three parts fresh herbs to one part dried. (If the recipes calls for 1 Tbs of dried, you’ll want 3 Tbs fresh and chopped.)

Okay, I’ll put my soapbox away and assume that everyone had been converted! Let’s take a quick look at how to store those delicious and delicate fresh herbs you just picked up…

The “flower vase” is a method I began using recently, and I’ve seen a remarkable improvement in the freshness and longevity of my herbs. (To be honest, my “flower vase” is a mason jar…which is fitting.) I can personally recommend this method for basil, parsley, and cilantro, and would be confident that it would work just as well on any other fresh herb.

Here’s a slightly longer video that gives some more in-depth how-to’s on how to prep your fresh herbs for cooking, as well as some suggested dishes. Keep an eye on some of the great techniques that Jamie uses…

Any tips or questions?