There are dozens of food hacks to keep herbs fresh, and sadly most of them don’t work. We always try to keep mint and cilantro on hand and basil in the summer is a must-have. Sadly, they tend to get black and slimy before we can use them up, so I’ve tried all the usual ways to keep them fresh. None of this has been terribly scientific, just one person’s experience.
- Don’t wash them until you need them. This might make stuff last a little longer, but the downside is that when you reach for whatever herb you need, it has to get washed and dried which usually isn’t in my game plan. I’m not so sure it adds much if any more life and if you forget to take off the bands holding the bunch together, you’re left with slime in the middle.
- Wash and let dry. This is (or was) my usual go-to. When everything is dry, toss in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Sometimes with delicate stuff like cilantro, wrap loosely in a paper towel and then in plastic. Some days this works better than others, depending on the freshness of the herbs.
- Cut a little off the stems and put in a glass with a little water, like a bunch of flowers. I don’t know if you’ve had success with this, but it’s been a huge fail for me. For some reason, the minute the herbs (trimmed or not, washed or not) hit the water, they start to droop and by the end of the day—literally, they’re a mess and headed for the trash.
- Cut a little off the stems, wash and put in a glass with a little water, top with a plastic bag and put in the fridge. Since I’ve not had luck with technique 3 and don’t have the refrigerator space to have containers with plastic bags on top of them lurking around the milk, I’ve never tried this. If you have and it’s worked, let me know.
- Cut little off the stems, put the herbs in a quart deli container with an inch of water, put a lid on it and put it in the fridge. I discovered this in an article that was trying to sell expensive versions of herb keepers similar to #4. It appealed to me because I had a few deli containers and with a lid, they can be stacked and tossed around the fridge with little fear of breakage and leaking. I gave it a try with some cilantro that was looking a little tired, some basil (which is notorious for not lasting once water touches it) and a bunch of mint. It’s been about 5 days and I was shocked to find the cilantro and basil looking perfect! The mint was also pristine, but it’s hardier so less surprising. So, start saving up quart deli containers and give your herbs a longer life.