By Emma Stessman
Fresh herbs add a ton of flavor (not to mention some serious nutrients!) to almost any recipe. But often, you buy a bundle with a salad or cocktail in mind and the unused leaves quickly shrivel up in the fridge before you can use them again. And having to throw a whole bunch of parsley in the trash is painful when you think about protecting the environment and when you think about your wallet.
However, if you learn to store herbs the right way, many can last up to two weeks, giving you plenty of time to make a couple more caprese salads or a flavorful tomato-basil chicken breast (a super easy and delicious dinner, BTW).
We’ve rounded up a few essential tips for storing some of the most popular herbs, below.
How to Store Fresh Herbs
Emily Dixon of One Lovely Life says to treat cilantro like a bouquet of flowers. Place a bundle of cilantro in a jar or cup filled with water and store it in the refrigerator. To keep the moisture in and the flavors fresh, cover the top with a plastic bag. As long as you change the water every few days, Dixon says this method of storing cilantro will basically guarantee it stays fresh for at least one week, but more often than not it should last for two.
RECIPE: Cilantro Lime Avocado Yogurt Dip
To keep parsley fresh, you can use the exact same method as you would for cilantro. But if you’re pressed for fridge space and can’t squeeze a whole jar full of parsley between your groceries, Taste of Home suggests storing the herb in a paper towel. Make sure you shake off any excess moisture (to prevent mold), wrap the bundle in a paper towel, and place the whole thing in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.
According to LeafTV, the paper towel and ziploc method can also be used to store rosemary for around 10 to 14 days. But, if you’re trying to cut down on your plastic usage (kudos to you!), you can also wrap the rosemary in a slightly damp kitchen towel and place it in a reusable glass container. With all that fresh rosemary, you won’t be able to resist making these rosemary spiced nuts for a midday snack.
Similar to cilantro and parsley, basil should be stored in a jar or cup filled with water and covered with a plastic bag. But here’s one super common mistake you could be making: basil shouldn’t be kept in the fridge. In fact, Food52 says refrigeration tends to turn the leaves black. Instead, keep it at room temperature, ideally on your counter, away from the sun.
StreetSmart Kitchen’s Sharon Chen says you can use either the bouquet method (unlike basil, you definitely want to put mint in the fridge) or the same paper towel and Ziploc bag strategy used for rosemary and parsley. Mint is also a great water enhancer. If you know you’re not going to use the rest of the mint within two weeks, Chen suggests chopping up a handful of leaves and adding them to your freezer tray with water to create some super refreshing ice cubes to add to iced tea or H2O. Or you can just drop the leaves in a pitcher, no freezing required.