It’s tough to keep store-bought herbs such as cilantro, basil and parsley, in tip-top shape, even in the best of times. Now that many of us are cooking at home frequently — and going to the grocery store is a massive, infrequent undertaking — those herbs need to stay crisp and flavorful for as long as possible.
The cooking experts at The Kitchn decided to try five common storage methods and rank the results. It’s a rumble in the refrigerator — and only one method kept its sample properly crisp and flavorful.
The site used the same bunch of parsley to test five common methods of herb storage — wrapping the stems in either dry or damp paper towels and then stowing them in a freezer bag; chucking the herbs, still in the produce bag, into the crisper; and the “bouquet” method, which is when you stick the herb bundle in a glass of water and then either cover it with a bag or leave it uncovered.
The winner — wrapping your herbs in a damp paper towel and placing them in a freezer bag!
“It kept the parsley fresh and vibrant, and there was practically no spoilage — even after seven days,” reported Kitchn tester Jesse Szewczyk, rating the method a near-perfect 9 out of 10.
Szewczyk notes that the key is to wrap your herbs in a towel that’s a little damp, not sopping wet. Use a drippy towel and you could ruin your lovely herbs with mold.
According to Bon Appétit’s guide to the technique, the damp paper towel provides just the right amount of moisture to keep leaves fresh for up to a week.
They also suggest cleaning and wrapping your herbs right when you get home from the store, if possible. That way, they’re always ready to go when inspiration strikes.
Read the Kitchn’s full story here, including the complete rankings. Food and Wine also has some great tips for storing different types of fresh herbs.
I admit I was surprised when my favorite technique — the “covered bouquet” — ended up with the worst score. I’ll definitely try the damp-paper-towel method after my next grocery run!
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