How to make fresh herbs last for a month or more

It’s happened to us all: You buy a bunch of parsley or cilantro, use about a quarter of it, and three months later find yourself excavating a bag of green slime from the bottom of the crisper. At our supermarket herbs average anywhere from 49 cents to $1.99, which, for a one-time use, adds up fast. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way.

A fresh bunch of herbs is no different than a bunch of cut flowers—the cell structures for pulling in water are still intact; so long as the herbs can still drink water, they can still live. When I buy a bunch of herbs at the store, I immediately wash them, cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inch off the bottom stems with kitchen shears, and plop them in a jar or cup full of water. I then put them in a fridge with the produce bag over them so they don’t dry out. (Below are cilantro, parsley, and epazote I bought on March 3—still going strong.)

Then, three weeks, four weeks, or—depending on how fresh the herbs were when I bought them—even a month or more later I find the bunch is still there, crisp and green and ready to use. Parsley seems to last the longest this way, followed by cilantro and basil (all other herbs I find I can grow year round). Try it out next time you buy some at the store.

24 responses to “How to make fresh herbs last for a month or more

  1. What a great tip~ So many people will likely be amazed how easy it is. I’ve posted in on my Facebook Page for my fans! Cheers

  2. Yes, this is a great way to keep cut herbs. Here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, I grow many of the herbs I use for cooking year round but even mild winters like the one we just had does away with basil. Dill and cilantro are growing great right now, but ready to bolt as soon as the days get hotter. If you have bought more than you will use before the cut herb goes bad, or if you have a bountiful harvest and just need to save some for later, I have good success with freezing small amounts in olive oil in ice cube trays. After freezing, plop them into a ziploc bag and pull out just what you need. Better than dried, although I love the look of bunches of dried herbs hanging around.

    • I tried the ice-cube freezing thing a while back but ended up with a wilted, flavorless, sludgy-looking leaves. I didn’t try the olive oil, though; I wonder if that’s the key.

  3. Great tip! I run into this problem with parsley more than anything, and am trying to grow some on my own, but this is a great idea to preserve some. Thanks!

  4. Great tips! I’m totally going to save my herbs this way from now on!

  5. I have to try this! I wash herbs and wrap them in paper towel, and that helps, but it doesn’t hold them anything near three weeks.

  6. I use a similar method for parsley, but wonder about the basil. Doesn’t it turn black in the refrigerator?

    Thanks for stopping by my blog btw 🙂

  7. Great tip! Like you, I grow much of my own, but cilantro bolts so quickly.

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who has cilantro problems. I’ve since tried growing it indoors in the Aerogarden, and it lasts longer but ends up spindly and anemic-looking. I can’t win!

  8. You can also make celery bunches last longer this way. Just cut the bottom a bit and insert in a tall tmbler or putcher and store in the fridge door. Nice and crispy for up to 4 weeks.

  9. Reblogged this on dirt n kids and commented:
    It’s no secret we eat a lot of veggies. If you’re not picking your own home-grown variety, here’s a great way to keep store-bought bunches of herbs (organic ones can be expensive!) fresh until you’re ready to use them. The only thing I do differently is to use a tall rectangular container which is more modular for my packed 21.9 cu-ft fridge space (I’ve all but ditched round containers).

    But she’s right — herbs and stalk plants like celery keep much better and longer this way.

  10. Great tip; I;ll try it. I do this with celery, why not herbs?

    Jess

  11. I’m SO happy to have read this post. Great tip!

  12. Great tip – thanks for sharing.

  13. Pingback: The Return of Pesto | jewelsincolorado

  14. Brilliant! I’m constantly buying herbs, scrambling to use them, and then throwing half the bunch out. Thanks so much!

  15. broccoliisgoodforyou

    Fantastic tip! I just had to throw away a big bunch of slimy cilantro after using maybe a dozen stems a week ago. Thank you!

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