Kitchen Tip: How to Store Fresh Parsley, Cilantro and Other Herbs
If you’ve been following the blog for the past couple of weeks, you know I’ve been waging a serious war against premature food spoilage in my kitchen. First, I conquered the bananas—twice. Then I took on my salad greens. This week, I’ve been experimenting (successfully!) with how to keep bunches of fresh-cut herbs greener (and, well, usable) for longer.
See, the frustrating thing about most recipes that call for fresh herbs is that they only require a tablespoon or two of the stuff at most. That’s all fine and well if you’re growing your own herbs and can just take what you need, but for those of us stuck buying the fresh-cut bunches at the ACME, a tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro means that approximately 95 percent of the greens go untouched. And since I’m loath to throw anything away unnecessarily (hey! I paid a whole $1.50 for that cilantro!), I was determined to find a way to make it last so I could use it for other recipes later in the week.
Years ago, a foodie friend of mine recommended wrapping the stalks in a moist paper towel to help feed them while they’re in the fridge. I’ve tried this method several times in the past and it’s never really worked. I also once tried putting the stems in an inch of water on the countertop, only to watch them shrivel and die overnight. Sigh.
Two Sundays back, I decided to give the paper towel trick another whirl, only this time, I improvised a little. I wrapped the stems as instructed—get the paper towel dripping wet then wring it out just a little—then put the herbs in a plastic bag. I got all the air out of the bag, and secured it closed with a chip clip. Because my veggie drawer was full, I stored the greens in with the fruit. (I have no idea if this last part matters; I’m simply including it here for full disclosure.)
Although I’d planned to use the parsley and cilantro in a recipe last week, life got crazy and I only got around to making said recipe yesterday. So, those herbs had been sitting in the fridge for 11 days by the time I pulled them out last night, and I fully expected to open the bag and find a wet, gloppy mess of what once was lovely, fresh herbs. But guess what? I was pleasantly surprised to find that my herbs had not only not turned the corner to Disgustingville, they actually appeared to be healthier, somehow, than when I bought them. I have no way to prove this, of course, but I’m fairly certain they grew or the leaves, at least, got bigger or something. Wishful thinking, maybe, but I’m not going to question it. I’m just happy to have a well-stocked supply of fresh herbs for the foreseeable future.
How do you store herbs at home? Any tricks to share? Leave your advice in the comments.