Stop Throwing Away Your Fresh Herbs

September 12, 2009 – 5:27 am

I have gone through the agony of throwing out my fresh herbs way too many times.  It’s so disturbing when I find a package of basil, sage, rosemary, or whatever I bought for a recipe recently, lying in the bottom of the crisper in my refrigerator.  Sure enough, the herbs are blackened, wilted, or otherwise fraught with yuck.

Finding a solution to this has been difficult, to say the least.  I have friends who grow their own herbs just to prevent this from happening to them.  Unfortunately, my gardening space is non-existent and a spot in the house is not going to work well as the cats will most definitely get to “use” the herbs before I will.

So, back to the drawing board.  I’ve tried putting a paper towel in the package along with the herbs to absorb the moisture, presumably to make them last longer.  That just gave me a paper towel to throw out with the herbs.  I have chopped the herbs up and frozen in ice cubes, which works for some things.  However, when you want to sprinkle fresh herbs on a salad or stir fry, the water from the melting ice cube just is not very appetizing.

As I was in the midst of this search for a good way to keep fresh herbs in the house, I was watching some cooking shows, and there it was right in front of me all along.  Each cooking show I watched had a drinking glass or other glass jar on the counter filled with water and a sprig of fresh herbs!  The cook would just reach over and pluck a handful of herbs, slap them on the cutting board, and voila!

Off to the grocery store I went that day, armed with a pile of recipes and my shopping list.  When I got home, I rinsed my herbs, trimmed the ends to help them absorb more water, and separated them into individual drinking glasses filled with fresh cold water and got to work cooking.  It was such a pleasant experience to reach over and grab my desired herb for each recipe.  Not only was it efficient, it was fragrant and added a nice, pretty accent to my kitchen counter.  And, it made me feel like one of those chef’s on television!

This is where planning comes into play.  The herbs will NOT last forever on your kitchen counter top.  I even put them, as is, in the refrigerator if I wasn’t going to use them again for a day or two.  The real trick is menu planning.  When I decided to try this, I planned my menu using similarly seasoned recipes.  For instance, I planned several pork dishes which called for fresh rosemary, and I made a couple freezer meals that called for basil, like spaghetti sauce and an Italian-style casserole, plus a salad for the first night that I wanted to try making basil chiffonade for the top.  Plan ahead so your herbs will be used up in a couple days when they’re at their peak.

There are also certain herbs that tolerate this method better than others and you’ll need to experiment a little to see which are the most favorable.  Parsley certainly is a long-lasting herb, but basil does pretty well, also.  Buy small amounts if you can and try them out.  Even if they wilt in a couple days, it sure beats finding them all slimy in the bottom of the crisper drawer!

I hope you give this method of keeping herbs fresh in your own kitchen.  It’s pretty, it’s fragrant, it’s handy, and it works!

If you’re always looking for easy ways to save money and stop your wasteful habits, you are not alone.  Stop back here often and be sure to share your successful money saving ideas.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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