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There’s nothing better than having fresh herbs for cooking. There’s nothing worse than thinking you have fresh herbs for cooking, only to discover a horrible pile of slimy goo instead.

I’ve come up with a system to keep herbs fresher. It involves keeping the herbs in a glass with water (which you may have done before) along with some additional crucial steps (which you may have not done before, rendering you a pile of slimy goo anyway).

First let’s take a look at this bunch of parsley from the grocery store. You’ll notice that it has some condensation around the edges of the bag. This is what is going to cause the parsley to rot if it isn’t taken care of it right away. Get the bag off this parsely now, but set the bag aside instead of throwing it away.

Next, get a small juice glass. The important thing about selecting a cup or glass is diameter. You obviously need a diameter wide enough to fit the stems of the herbs. Less obviously, you don’t want to get a glass too big in diameter. Otherwise, the leaves of the of the herbs are going to spill out over the edge, the stems will go all over the place, and the herbs will ultimately be deprived of water. So make sure that whatever vessel you use is narrow enough that the herbs will stand up straight.

Once you’ve picked out a glass, fill it with water part way. You just want to make sure you are covering the stems of the herbs and not the leaves. It’s okay if a leaf or two ends up in the water, just as long as the bulk of them are out. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to use filtered water for this step.

Now take the herbs and get all the excess water off of them. This is very important because most grocery stores have mister systems spraying all sorts of water over the herbs, which causes all of the rot later on. Give them a good shake over the sink. At this point, also take out any bits that already look discolored or limp. Once you have a fresh, healthy looking bunch of herbs, put them into the water glass.

Get the bag you set aside earlier (you set it aside instead of throwing it away, right?) and turn it inside out. Then shake all the moisture out of the bag. This step is crucial because you are going to use the bag again to cover the herbs.

The trick is that the bag helps maintain the humidity of the air around the herbs without getting water on the leaves. If you have water on the leaves, you’re heading back to slimy goo territory. If you go bagless, your refrigerator will dry out the herbs.

Congratulations! Your herbs are in a glass, covered, watered, and not damp. They should stay fresh for well over a week in the refrigerator without wilting or turning into a science experiment!

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Joe LeBlanc


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Joe in Austin

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