To prevent your fresh herbs from becoming a brown, gooey mess, preserve what you are not using immediately — while the plants are still fresh. I keep (labeled) baggies in the freezer, break off what I need for a dish then reseal the bag and it goes back in the freezer. It’s a great way to cheat on fresh herbs when they are not in season.
Clean and prep your herbs for storage. Depending on the herb, I have different methods.
- For cilantro and parsley, cut away from the bottom of the bunch, leaving the stems. Then wash them by immersing the leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Swish the leaves around with your hand. (Yes, it should be really, really cold water.) Let the soil and grit settle in the bottom of the bowl. Use your hands to scoop the leaves out from the top-most layers and place in a strainer/colander. Remove as many leaves as you can. Avoid disturbing the bottom of the bowl. Empty the bowl, rinse it out well. Repeat 3 times. (This is the same method I use for any leafy greens.)
When the leaves are clean, place them out on a tea towel or paper towel and let air dry for 1-3 hours.
Label a plastic bag with a permanent marker with the name of the herb. Collect the leaves and gently stuff them into the baggie. Place in the freezer, flat.
- For dill and sage, I don’t bother washing. Pluck the fronds or leaves from the main stem and put directly into the labeled bag.
- For oregano and thyme, I roughly wash the stems whole since they are pretty hardy. Fill a large bowl with icy-cold water. Unbind the stems from the bunch. Taking about 5-10 stems at a time, swish them around in the water. Shake dry and place on a tea towel or paper towel. Continue until you are done with the whole bunch. Then place in a labeled bag.
- For basil, I do a rinse similar to cilantro and parsley.