Fresh herbs are a fantastic addition to almost any dish, they bring vibrant flavors and amazing aromas to give a little something extra to whatever you’re making. Preserving herbs' freshness can be a challenge. Many home cooks struggle to keep herbs from wilting and losing their potency within days of purchase. That's where proper storage techniques come in.
In this guide, we'll explore the best methods to store herbs in the fridge to ensure their longevity and flavor retention to reduce food waste at home. So let's dive in!
1. First Off Start with Fresh Herbs:
Sounds obvious, but the first step to storing herbs effectively is to begin with the freshest herbs possible. When you’re buying herbs, look for vibrant colors, crisp leaves, and a strong aroma. Avoid wilted or discolored herbs. If it already looks tired before you buy it, your food waste chances are high, even with the best possible herb storage.
2. Prep Your Herbs:
Before storing your herbs, it's essential to prep them properly. Start by removing any damaged or yellowing leaves. Gently wash the herbs under cold water and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Ensure they are completely dry before moving on to the next step, as moisture or water droplets on the leaves can promote decay.
3. Choose the Right Storage Method:
There are a few different approaches you can take when storing herbs in the fridge.
- Water Method: Trim the ends of the herbs' stems and place them in a jar (or one of our reusable silicone Hugger Bags) filled with an inch of water. This method works well for hardy herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
- Damp Fabric Napkin or Dish Towel Method: Dampen a fabric napkin or a dish towel, wring out any excess water, then wring it out again to get as much water out as possible. Too much water is a much more likely problem than too little. Spread your fabric out on a flat surface. Place the herbs on top of the fabric, making sure they're not overcrowded. Roll the fabric gently, enclosing the herbs, and store them in a reusable silicone bag like Hugger Bags or our Food Huggers Fabric Bags. This method is suitable for delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil.
- Food Storage Containers: Another effective option is to store herbs in airtight containers. Line the bottom of the container with a damp fabric napkin, place the herbs on top, and cover them with another damp fabric napkin. Seal the container tightly to prevent moisture loss. You could also opt for popular eco-friendly kitchen tools like our Reusable Bowl Lids over the bowls you have at home. This method works well for all types of herbs.
4. Positioning in the Fridge:
To maintain optimal freshness, it's important to store your herbs in the right spot within the refrigerator. Most fridges have a designated crisper drawer, which provides a slightly higher humidity level than the rest of the fridge. This makes it an ideal location for storing herbs. Place the herbs in a container and position them in the crisper drawer. If you don't have a crisper drawer, store them in the least cold area of the fridge, such as the door or the upper shelves.
5. Regularly Check and Refresh:
To ensure your herbs stay fresh for as long as possible, regularly check and refresh their storage conditions. Every few days, inspect the herbs for any signs of decay or moisture build-up. Remove any wilted leaves or herbs that have gone bad. If using the damp fabric napkin or container method, replace the napkins with fresh ones, ensuring they remain slightly damp but not soaking wet. This maintenance routine will help extend the shelf life of your herbs.
6. Freezing Herbs for Long-Term Storage:
If you have an abundance of fresh herbs and want to preserve them for an extended period, freezing is an excellent option. Wash and dry the herbs thoroughly, chop them if desired, and place them in reusable silicone freezer bags or ice cube trays. Cover them with a drizzle of olive oil or water to prevent freezer burn. Label the bags or trays with the herb name and date and store them in the freezer. Frozen herbs can be easily added to soups, stews, and sauces directly from the freezer.
7. Saving Money and Fighting Food Waste
Properly storing your herbs can have a significant impact on reducing food waste and saving families money. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), herbs and spices are among the most commonly wasted food items, with households throwing away around 15-20% of these aromatic ingredients. By implementing effective storage methods, families can extend the shelf life of their herbs and prevent them from going to waste. Proper storage techniques, such as using airtight containers, refrigeration, and freezing, can help preserve the freshness and flavor of herbs, allowing families to enjoy them for longer periods and minimize unnecessary expenditures on replacements. By being mindful of herb storage, households can make a positive impact on both their budgets and the fight against food waste.
Properly storing herbs is essential to maintain their freshness and maximize their flavor. By following these tips, you can extend the shelf life of your herbs, reduce food waste, and enhance the taste of your dishes. Remember to start with fresh herbs, choose the right storage method based on the herb's hardiness, position them correctly in the fridge, and regularly check and refresh the storage conditions. With these practices in place, you'll have aromatic, flavorful herbs at your disposal whenever you need them in the kitchen.
Happy cooking and happy herb storage!
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As a sustainability-focused, B Corp, and women owned business, Food Huggers have been offering eco-friendly kitchen tools and sustainable swaps to help us all move towards our zero waste home goals since 2013.
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We’d also love to hear – what’s your favorite method of storing your herbs?