It’s always the same old story. You vow to eat better, live healthier, and commit to cooking nutritious meals every single day. You stock up on beautiful fresh produce and lush green herbs, everything you need to make a meal worthy of the ‘gram. And then you cave and order pizza for ONE DAY, and everything in your vegetable drawer looks like the death scene in The Titanic. Suddenly you’re throwing out the limp corpse of your cooking dream and resigning yourself to a life built on a foundation of takeout boxes.

Aside from the waste of food and money, running out of herbs can really jam up your cooking schedule since a lot of recipes just taste incomplete without a sprinkling of good green stuff to elevate the flavours. There’s always the option of growing your own, but for a lot of us who have the killer touch, it’s just another expedition into failure. So your best option is to learn how to treat your fresh herbs kindly and store them right. It may be a race against time, fate and the weather, but there are a few ways to ensure they last as long as possible.

Also Read: Five Fragrant Herbs To Use In The Kitchen

To Wash Or Not To Wash

You may be worried about washing herbs straight from the grocery store because it seems to be adding even more moisture than necessary, but that isn’t really the case. There’s often a ton of surface debris and bacteria on the leaves and stems that can actually speed up the decay process, and while rinsing them off isn’t sterilising them, it can help to remove a lot of the gunk. The trick is to make sure they’re completely dry before storing them away which can be done in a salad spinner, followed by a pat down with paper towels and about half an hour of airdrying.

Name. That. Herb.

Tender herbs like Parsley, Cilantro, and Basil need different treatments from woody ones like Rosemary, Thyme or Oregano so be sure to use the correct method for each to avoid any accidents.

Tender Herbs

These soft-stemmed, tender shoots thrive best when they get a little extra help and water to thrive for longer.

  • After washing trim the ends off the stems so all the stalks sit at an even height.
  • Pick off any dead or wilted leaves, they just bring everyone’s mood down. 
  • Fill a large plastic container (you have some leftover from the takeout right?) and fill it with about an inch of water. 
  • Place the bunch in, stem-first ensuring that none of the leaves are submerged before putting the lid on tightly and storing it in the fridge

This creates a nice moist, airtight environment that should keep your herbs fresh for weeks.

(Note: Basil is a bit fussier and might survive better outside when it can get some natural light, but play around and see whether your kitchen conditions are suitable for this)

Suitable for: Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Tarragon, Mint, Chives, Dill

Woody Herbs

These herbs have tougher stems and tougher constitutions so you don’t have to worry quite as much about them.

  • After washing, arrange the herbs lengthwise in a single layer on a paper towel that’s been slightly dampened.
  • Loosely roll up the herbs like a very vegan burrito and transfer the roll to a plastic bag with a resealable top. 
  • Store it in the fridge.

Suitable for: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Lavender, Bay Leaves

With these few simple steps, you’re well on your way to ruling the roost of fresh herbs and ensuring every meal has the extra oomph that it deserves.