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.