What are the best ways to store and preserve the freshness of leftover fresh herbs?
Whether you grow your own, come across a multi-buy offer at the supermarket, or simply just need a few sprigs at a time, storing fresh herbs can be quite tricky. Like cut flowers, once separated from their roots, herbs lose moisture. They are prone to discolouration, wilting and eventually turning into mush if not stored properly. However there are, a couple of ways to preserve their flavour and texture for some time.
First wash them: in a big bowl of water, swirl the herbs around to dislodge any dirt and debris. Remove, and lay out on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
Refrigerate: for short term storage
This method is best if you do not plan on cooking the herbs, e.g in a salad, or if you require a garnish.
Trim the bottom of the stalks. Pour two inches of water into a glass jar, and stand the herbs in it. Cover with cling film and refrigerate. Most herbs will last a couple of weeks like this. The exception is Basil which does better in a cool place rather than the refrigerator. Herbs stored like this do tend to lose some of their flavour and their crispness over time, becoming softer.
Freeze: for longer storage
Freeze your leftover fresh herbs in oil so you never run out. This is an excellent way to preserve herbs for cooking. The oil melts quickly, releasing the herbs, adding flavour to your dish.
Prepare the herbs as you would require them: chop finely, remove leaves from stems, etc. You can freeze them separately or mix them up (e.g. rosemary and thyme). Fill an ice tray 2/3 to the top with the herbs, and top with olive oil. Cover with cling film and freeze. Once frozen (approx. 8 hours), pop them out and store them in a labelled zip-loc bag in the freezer.
This coriander chutney can also be frozen in ice-trays.