These days, home cooks can buy fresh herbs at their local supermarket. Most retailers sell cilantro, flat leaf parsley, curly leaf parsley, basil and thyme.
- Always buy the freshest bunch. Try smelling them. Fresh herbs should have a strong, fresh aroma. The leaves should look clean, green and crisp.
- Once home, do not clean them right away. Water on the leaves creates a home for mold and the plant will deteriorate much faster with damp leaves. Instead, wait till just prior to use, before rinsing them – but RINSE them before consumption.
- Some “food writers” recommend cutting the tips of the stems off before storing them; however, I have never done this and my herbs usually will last a week.
- I place the herb bunch in a large enough glass to allow room for the herbs to breath. I only put enough water in the glass to barely touch the tips of the herb.
5. Make sure to change the water DAILY! Before I put the bunch of herbs back into the glass, I rinse the tips in cool water. This will remove any residue that has formed.
6. Tips 1-5 will work for all herbs I previously mentioned EXCEPT for Basil. All plants emit ethylene gas, but besides this, Basil is very sensitive to cold temperatures. Placing a plastic zip lock bag over the plant, once it is in the aforementioned glass of water, allowing moisture to stay in, while ethylene escapes, making for basil that remains vibrant for nearly a week.
When using these herbs in cooking…
- Rinse the portion you are about to use.
- Thoroughly dry with a paper towel. I lay the trimming, stem and all in a paper towel, then apply a top paper towel, pressing firmly to remove most of the water.
- I discourage cutting or chopping basil. To optimize the most flavor in your dish, just break leaves by hand into your dish.
- Cilantro, parsley and thyme can be chopped and added to dishes. Some chefs use the stems, they are completely edible, however, I do not. I pick the leaves from the stems and use a mezzaluna (mine was made in Italy) to chop the herbs.
Remember any herbs that are beyond use can be added to your compost bin!