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Kitchen Corner: Storing Fresh Herbs

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Kitchen Corner: Storing Fresh Herbs

Save the herbs! This week we talk about getting the most out of your favourite flavour enhancers.

Is there anything so lovely as adding a big bunch of fresh herbs to your dinner? Is there anything as decidedly un-lovely as taking them out of the fridge, only to discover that they have turned to stinky, swampy mush after only a day or two?

There are a lot of ways to make the most out of fresh herbs, to help you recreate that fresh from the garden flavour all through the week. Here are a few tips and tricks.

Sort them out

Herbs are usually part of two camps. Camp A are the woody stemmed kinds such as rosemary and thyme. The softer stemmed varieties fall into Camp B; think basil, parsley, and cilantro. Camp A and Camp B don’t get along very well and insist upon being stored separately.

Let them drink

Herbs are, after all, essentially akin to cut flowers. So, it makes sense that they would need a water source. This is especially helpful to avoid wilting; because the plant is drinking, the stem stays firm and strong to support the plant. Snip the stems first to encourage absorption.

Soft, Camp B herbs are happiest standing in an inch or two of water at room temperature, and covered loosely with a plastic bag (recycled of course!). The harder stemmed herbs are best stored in an airtight container in the fridge, with the stems wrapped in a damp paper towel.

Dry them off

Drying the leaves of the herbs before storing them makes sure that the leaves don’t stick together and start to rot in the damp. Better yet, don’t rinse them until just before use.

Freeze the leaves

To freeze, spread clean dry herbs on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to airtight containers and use as needed.

Freeze them in oil

As opposed to freezing fresh herbs in water, which can add unwanted moisture and swampiness, try this method of freezing in oil. Blitz the fresh herbs in a blender with a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and transfer to ice-cube trays. Once frozen, transfer the cubes into airtight containers. There is no need to defrost before using them, just throw them into the pot as needed. You can get as creative as you like with this method. Consider blitzing up a blend of herbs and pesto, or adding extra flavours such as chili, garlic, or citrus for some extra zing.

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