Keep Your Herbs Fresh This Summer, Using These Simple Tips
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While freezing or dehydrating herbs are suggested as possible solutions to avoid wastage and increase their shelf life, the flavour and brightness of fresh herbs can’t quite be replicated with its counterparts. Preserving the flavour of fresh herbs like coriander, mint, dill and basil – most of which are used frequently in everyday cooking, during the summer, might pose as bit of a challenge – thanks to the scorching heat and high levels of humidity; both of which work against retaining the freshness of delicate herbs.

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Having the right combination of temperature and moisture is crucial to ensure that both, delicate and ‘hard’ herbs thrive until they are ready to be used. While herbs like coriander, parsley, mint and dill classify as delicate herbs, thyme, rosemary and chives aren’t as easily prone to go bad, but stand a chance nevertheless. On the other hand, a herb like basil, which doesn’t classify as either, can be stored at room temperature with the ends of its stems snipped off and placed in a mason jar with an inch or two of water at the bottom. Here are a few tips to ensure that you can store and use up your herbs, when they’re still fresh.

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  • Examine the freshness of your herbs once they are purchased, and remove any wilted, discoloured, or damaged leaves so that you can use only the healthy and vibrant parts of the herbs.
  • Wash the herbs under a tap of cold running water to remove any dirt or debris but make sure to be gentle while handling delicate herbs in order to avoid bruising or damaging them. Place them on a clean kitchen towel so the excess moisture drips away before you put them in a salad spinner to get rid of any remaining moisture.
  • Trim the ends of the herb stems, removing any woody or tough parts. This step is particularly important for herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
  • Using clean, dry air-tight containers or resealable plastic bags lined with paper towels before you place the herbs in them, allows them to stay fresh in the refrigerator for longer, without wilting or drying up. Depending on the herb type, you can choose from a couple of storage methods:
  1. Hard Herbs - Rosemary, thyme, and sage can be wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel or placed in a resealable plastic bag. Sealing the bag partially while leaving some room for air circulation lets the herbs remain crisp and fresh.
  2. Delicate Herbs – The stems of herbs like mint, cilantro, and parsley can be trimmed and placed upright in a jar or glass with an inch or two of water. Covering the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and securing it with a rubber band also lets them remain green and have their flavours intact. Change the water every 1-2 days to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Store the herbs in the refrigerator's crisper drawer or a cooler part of the fridge where the temperature is slightly higher than the rest of the fridge, typically around 4°C.
  • Check the herbs periodically for any signs of wilting or spoilage. If you notice any wilted leaves, remove them with a pair of tweezers to maintain the freshness of the remaining herbs.