Herbs are an essential part of cooking. Without them there’d be no flavour or fun and ultimately they are the ingredients that can take a dish from bland to brilliant.Unfortunately, when bought fresh, herbs have a shelf life much like other fresh fruits and vegetables. This results in throwing away bulks of sad and wilted coriander which could have been the making point of a dish. We’ve put together tips on how to keep herbs fresh, thereby saving you money and ensuring your meals stay tasty!
Leith’s-trained Pastry Chef and HLL recipe writer, Susie from Gourmet Glow, has first hand experience when it comes to herbs – not just with cooking, but with storing and increasing their longevity. She’s been happy to share some tips with us to help keep our cooking flavoursome rather than flat.
- Woody herbs: Make sure that herbs such as rosemary, bay, thyme, oregano, lavender etc are hung upside down to dry out then used as normal in cooking or ground to a powder as a herby sprinkle. Either use a pestle and mortar to crush the herbs or whizz them up in a food processor.
- Fresh herbs: To avoid having to de-weed your fridge, fresh herbs should always be treated as you would cut flowers. Store in the fridge in a glass of water or wrapped entirely in damp kitchen paper – this stops them wilting for a while and can extend their shelf like by a few extra days.
- Herb Oil: Alternatively you may want to try something different and turn your herbs into oil. Start by blanching your fresh bunch for 3 seconds in boiling water, then plunge into icy water. Shake off excess water, then whizz in a blender with extra virgin olive oil and then strain through a J cloth or muslin before use. Make sure they’re clean first! Store in an airtight jar and drizzle on salads or soups.
- Freeze: If you don’t have immediate plans for your herbs, you can prolong their usage by chopping and freezing them in stock or ice cubes. These can then be added directly to the stews and soups that you plan on making.You can also mix them with extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter and freeze them too. Some people recommend storing them in an ice cube tray that comes with a lid as they believe it helps keeps bad odours out. Top tip: Once frozen, empty the herb ice cubes into freezer bags to free up space in your freezer.
- Dehydrate: To bring out the flavour of leafy herbs, dehydrate and grind to a powder – this is also a good way to keep their nutritional value. To dehydrate herbs you can use a Dehydrator, put them out in the sun (when it comes back), or let them dry in a cool place indoors (which can take around 2-4 weeks).
- Turn into butter: Finely chop fresh herbs (most work well) and mash it into butter (this also works with vegan butter). Then spread it only cling film and roll it up like a sausage. Freeze and slice off discs for a herby meat or veg melty topping. Mmm! (If you mix chopped parsley with butter and a dash of lemon juice and freeze, it’s known as Maître d’Hôtel butter).
Try out Susie’s tips with some of our recipes:
Our blog post ‘Top 5 Ways With Sweet Potatoes’ includes a recipe for Sweet Potato Fries which uses oregano or rosemary.
We also have a recipe for Warming Bail and Chilli Soup
Susie aka Gourmet Glow is a Leith’s-trained chef who is currently a pastry chef at the prestigious Pont de la Tour. She provides bespoke luxury catering for events, has travelled internationally as a private chef and can cater to all dietary requirements, including vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free. Take a look at her recipes here >
Have you found any of these tips useful? Perhaps you have some of your own tips to share with us or have some healthy herb recipes? Tag us on Instagram @healthylivinglondon or on Twitter @hellofittyldn and we’ll share your ideas or suggestions!