Cooking with Fresh Herbs: The Best Ways to Use Them and to Store Them

Do you love the taste of fresh herbs? Or are you trying to make your dishes more flavorful without using a lot of salt?  If so, you’re in luck. Fresh herbs are a good way to add flavor to your dishes without using a lot of salt (if any at all) while offering a variety […]
fresh herbs

Aug 24, 2022

Do you love the taste of fresh herbs? Or are you trying to make your dishes more flavorful without using a lot of salt?  If so, you’re in luck.

Fresh herbs are a good way to add flavor to your dishes without using a lot of salt (if any at all) while offering a variety of health benefits. They can also be used as garnish, giving a punch of color to your dish. 

This blog post talks about the benefits of cooking with fresh herbs, how to use them in your cooking, and how to store them.

How to Cook With Fresh Herbs

Parsley: Parsley is a bright green herb. While it is most used as a garnish, it can also be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. Chop parsley and add it to your salads, soups, pasta dishes, or any other dish that you feel could use a little brightness.

Cilantro: Cilantro is a versatile herb that’s used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is commonly used in guacamole but can also be added to salsa or Thai curry for a burst of flavor. Try adding cilantro to desserts like mango ice cream or lime bars.

Basil: Basil is a staple in Italian cooking. Try adding basil to pasta sauce, pesto, or Caprese salad. You can also use basil to make homemade basil oil or basil-flavored vinegar.

Dill: Dill weed is often used to flavor pickles (hence the name “dill pickles”). Try adding dill to dishes such as potato salad, egg salad, or salmon for a boost of flavor. You can also use it to make homemade dill butter or sour cream.

Mint: Mint is a refreshing herb that is often used in both sweet and savory dishes. Add mint to your iced tea, lemonade, or Mojitos. Or try using it in savory dishes like lamb with mint sauce or grilled chicken skewers with mint yogurt sauce.

Rosemary: Rosemary is a hardy, woody herb that has a strong flavor. It goes best with animal proteins, such as beef or fish. Rosemary has a long growing season and is easy to dry. Because of its unmistakably strong flavor, it should be used sparingly.

Sage: Sage is often used in stuffing and gravy. It is a woody herb that can also be used to flavor pork, chicken, or lamb dishes.

Thyme: Thyme is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. Add thyme to soups, stews, sauces, or roasted vegetables. You can also use it to make homemade thyme oil or vinegar.

Now that you know a little bit more about herbs, let’s talk about how to store them.

Fresh herbs are either tender (resembling green plants) or hardy (more wood like).  The type of herb will determine the best way to store them.

Storing Tender Herbs

You can extend the life of your fresh herbs by following these tips on how to store them. The things you will need to store fresh herbs include:

  • Mason jars or recycled glass jars
  • Water
  • Light plastic bags
  • Rubber band

Make a fresh cut on the stems of herbs and remove any bottom leaves.

Place the fresh herbs in a glass jar with about 1″ of water on the bottom.

Cover the glass jar loosely with a plastic bag and secure with a rubber band.

Place the glass jar in the refrigerator.

Change water as needed to keep it clear. Wash herbs as you use them.

By following this method, your fresh herbs can last for up to two weeks.

Storing Hardy Herbs

To store hardy herbs, such as rosemary or oregano, you will need the following items:

  • Paper towels
  • Mesh produce bags

Wipe hardy herbs clean with a damp paper towel.

Dampen a fresh paper towel and loosely wrap the herbs in it.

Place the wrapped herbs in a mesh produce bag.

Place the mesh produce bag in the refrigerator.

How to Dry Fresh Herbs

Herbs that are hardy, such as rosemary, oregano, and sage, dry well when air-dried. Tender herbs, such as basil, dill, mint, chives, and parsley, should be dried in a dehydrator due to their high moisture levels.

The things you will need for drying fresh herbs include:

  • Kitchen string
  • Dry, low humidity space to hang herbs
  • Something to place under the herbs, like a plate or small towel

Remove any leaves from the herbs that appear to be rotten.

Shake the herbs to remove any debris.

Remove the leaves from the lower 1 inch of the stems.

With the kitchen string, bundle the herbs and tie the ends tightly.

Hang in a warm, dry space.  You may place something underneath to catch any falling leaves.

The drying process takes about 3 weeks.

Carefully remove the leaves and store them in a covered container in your cabinet.

How to Freeze Fresh Herbs

Freezing fresh herbs is one of the best ways to preserve its flavor.  To do this, you will need:

  • Ice cube trays
  • Oil, water, or juice (optional)
  • Freezer bags or freezer safe container

Remove leaves from stems.

Wash and thorough dry leaves.

Chop herbs and place them in ice cube trays.

If you intend on using herbs in cooking, cover with high-quality oil, like olive oil or avocado oil, or broth.

If you intend to add herbs to iced beverages, you can cover herbs with water or juice of choice.

Once frozen, you can remove cubes from trays and store them in freezer-safe bags or containers. Be sure to label!

Conclusion

Fresh herbs are a delicious and healthy way to add flavor to your food without using salt. They can be easily frozen, dried, and stored for use later.  Give them a try in one of your dishes.

Want to have this information handy? Download your FREE guide to using fresh herbs here.

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