We all know that buying fresh herbs can get expensive and they tend to spoil fairly quickly. Whomp whomp. Here are 4 ways to extend the shelf life of your herbs.
1. Turn Fresh Herbs to Dry Herbs by Microwaving
Food & Wine’s Mad Genius video series on YouTube demos how to dry herbs by microwave. Genius indeed!
2. Make Dry Herbs by Baking in the Oven If you want to avoid cooking by microwave, baking herbs in the oven is a great option #2. Line baking tray with parchment or aluminum foil. Place herbs on a single layer, leaving enough space so that they’re not touching. Bake on the lowest possible heat, about 150 degrees farenheit. Check in increments of 5 minutes to see when the leaves have dried and are crispy but not burnt. I prefer making dry herbs at home rather than buying dry herbs at the market since home-baked herbs keep their very nice green color and you can keep whole pieces intact for garnishing.
3. Freeze Fresh Herbs in an Ice Cube Tray with Olive Oil The picture below is pretty self-explanatory. You can just pop out a cube of olive oil herb and heat on the pan when you’re ready to cook. 4. Freeze in a Resealable Bag You can skip the olive oil and freeze your herbs in a resealable bag. Double bagging will help prevent freezer burn.
5. My Favorite – Regenerate! Even if you live in a small apartment and you don’t have room for a full outdoor garden, it pays off to grow herbs indoors. You just need a place for your herb pots near some natural light. Growing herbs indoors is another great solution if you live in an area with extremely cold winter climates. One of the easiest herbs to regenerate is the green onion. You can buy these from the supermarket. I found that organic vs. non-organic doesn’t matter for green onions since they grow so prolifically. Just chop of the green parts for eating and put the stalks into a glass jar with the roots submerged in water. This will last for weeks. I recommending replacing the water every few days. After about 2-3 weeks, the onions will need potting soil to keep surviving. If you don’t have space to plant outside, you can reuse the same glass or plastic container and replace the water with potting soil.
Instead of buying herbs like thyme or rosemary in the herb isle at the grocery store, I buy small pots and keep them growing in potting soil. Rosemary and mint grow in large volume, making them economical choices for the beginner gardener. Even if the herb plants die on you, they only cost a few dollars more than cut herbs and they’ll last much longer. I’ve found that Trader Joe’s has better prices on herb plants than The Home Depot, although the Trader Joe’s plants come in smaller sizes. If you want to dabble in basil (and who doesn’t), be advised that there is a proper way to prune and thin your basil plant. Here it is from YouTube user HomeSteadersFreedom. Check out the video from the 1:25 mark.
I’ve made the mistake of buying a basil plant from Trader Joe’s, tearing the leaves haphazardly and to my dismay, watching the plant completely wilt in the course of a week. There’s something amazing about growing and regenerating your own food. I hope this was helpful! Happy cooking Y’all.