My spice shelf is huge and impressive but there are some herbs that I prefer fresh: basil and cilantro are two of those. The problem I find every time I want to use one of these is they come in bunches bigger than my gigantic head. And there’s no way I can use that much cilantro or basil before they go bad. Because they go bad so quickly. What’s a girl to do? Two things: Store fresh herbs correctly and make them useful!
Two Ways To Store Fresh Herbs
That’s right. You’re gettin’ a two-for today. Twofer? Hm. You know what I mean. First things first: this post applies to whatever leafy, soft stemmed green herb you’re lamenting – basil and cilantro just happen to be the two I deal with most. But this works for parsley, dill and all those others, too. When you learn how to store fresh herbs, and reuse them for things beyond garnish, your kitchen skills level up.
Herb Hack #1: Store it Right From The Start
The first trick to lengthening the life of your fresh herbs comes down to storage. Kept in a cool area of the grocery store and misted, these herbs face an enemy from the second you pluck them from the shelf: saturation. Things can only get so wet. But the grocery set up allows for good drainage. That plastic bag you’re putting them in doesn’t – and while it’s fine to get them home, keeping them in there any longer than necessary is a recipe for destruction.
Before placing them in a plastic bag (surprise, surprise: I skip the plastic bag all together) give your herbs a vigorous shake to remove excess water. Place on top of other items in your cart and let them breathe.
I keep these for the end of the unload and leave the store with them on top of my other groceries – I don’t need plastic bags in my life.
At home I immediately destem and chop these herbs up. Then I whip out a paper towel and U-Konserve Reusable Food Kozy Sandwich Wrap. I place the paper towel flat on the opened Kozy, put the herbs in the center, wrap it up and pop it in the fridge.
This combination of paper towel plus Kozy keeps my herbs in tip top condition for 5-7 days, far longer than the store provided plastic bag could ever hope to last. But chances are I won’t use that much in 5-7 days, which is where my second hack comes in.
Herb Hack #2: Pesto is the Best-o
When there are more herbs than I know what to do with – and there are always more herbs than I know what to do with – I turn it into pesto. Pesto is far more versatile than you think and prolongs the life of your veggies.
There are plenty of recipes for pesto online but I prefer to let my taste guide me and use as few ingredients as possible to stay true to the flavor and freshness of the herbs – they’re easier to incorporate this way.
I place the chopped herbs in my Ninja with a tablespoon or so of olive oil to start plus a few cloves of garlic. I’m a garlic fan but if you’re not, I recommend one or two to start and then adjust. A little salt brings the flavors together and red wine vinegar also adds a bit of depth but neither is necessary. Blend and store in the fridge. That’s it!
If you aren’t someone who usually uses pesto it can be a bit daunting but believe me, there are more ways than you’ll ever bore of.
- Bowl them over. When we’re running low on time for dinner I make pasta, rice or another carb and add veggies and pesto for a delicious, healthy bowl.
- Pesto pasta. If it’s basil pesto mixing it into piping hot pasta with some parmesan is a perfect hearty meal.
- Soup’s on! Stir into soup for extra flavor. This works with sauces, salad dressings and anything else you can think of, too.
- Thicken salsa. Cilantro pesto lends thickness and depth to store bought and homemade salsa.
- Dip it. Pesto is a fun and different dip for veggies.
- Elevate your leftovers. Show me a leftover that can’t be turned into pizza or tacos and I’ll prove you wrong. Pesto is perfect mixed right into your pizza dough or slathered on pre-sauce and -toppings.
Go Forth And Be Fresh
Be sure to let me know if you try this and how you use your pesto. Tag your Insta posts with #oethicaloenologist or @oethical_oenologist so I can regram!