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How to look after your Herbs

In my ongoing attempts to be less of a shit human (also read : 'be more sustainable'), I've become more aware of food waste. Herbs and spices are without question some of the most versatile, cheap and useful ingredients to completely transform dishes in the kitchen. They're also one of the most wasted foods in the UK, being bought for one recipe and then within a few days, drying out, turning brown and salad leaves such as that token bag of spinach in the fridge turning to slime almost overnight.

It completely puts people off from buying fresh ingredients and I don't blame you - not one page within my hundred + collection of cookery books has ever talked about how to store herbs correctly.

So here we are.

A whole post on how to help your herbs and salad leaves last for weeks.


Soft herbs

  • parsley

  • coriander

  • dill

  • basil

  • oregano

  • tarragon

  • mint

Soft herbs have flexible stems and soft leaves. Store these herbs like a bouquet of flowers – snip off the very base of the stems, place in a glass jar with an inch of water at the bottom and store in the fridge on an upper shelf, replacing the water every few days, making sure no leaves are submerged in the water.

Can last up to 3+ weeks

Basil and mint are the exceptions here as they like to be kept at room temperature, in a light room but out of direct sunlight (not on a kitchen window sill if the sun shines directly on it). Buy potted plant versions and water them once their soil is dry, removing dead leaves every few days.

Can last up to 3+ weeks

Hard herbs

  • sage

  • rosemary

  • thyme

Hard herbs have firm leaves and woody stems. Store these in small bunches by rolling up inside damp and wrung-out kitchen paper and then putting in a ziplock bag or small container (reuse a small takeaway container) with a few holes pierced in the bag or container lid.

Can last up to 3+ weeks

Use leftover herbs by chopping them up and using them in butter coins, or freezing in ice-cube trays in olive oil (for cooking) or water (for drinks). Once frozen, pop out the cubes and store in a ziplock bag or storage container in the freezer.

Store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Salad Leaves

This hack keeps leaves fresh for up to (and sometimes well over!) a week.

If possible, buy your leaves loose (spinach, watercress, rocket etc.), more commonly available in farmer's markets, they tend to be fresher than ready packed salad bags. Once home, remove the leaves from the bag and store them on top of a piece of dry kitchen paper towel in a container (glass or BPA-free plastic) or a sealed ziplock bag.

The towel helps to absorb any moisture, keeping the leaves crisp and fresh for days. Storing them in containers prevents them from getting crushed, bruised and bashed by heavier vegetables in the fridge. If using ziplock bags, remember you can always wash, dry and reuse them.

Most green leaves (spinach, lettuce, rocket) that are starting to look a bit sad and wilted can be revived by getting rid of any browned or damaged leaves and then submerging in ice-cold water for 20 minutes. This will rehydrate them and keep them fresh and crisp. Leave to air-dry and enjoy immediately.

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