I used to find myself avoiding new recipes that called for delicate fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and dill. Unsure that I’d be able to use the whole bunch before it started to wilt and get brown and mushy, I’d feel wasteful buying a big bunch of something in the produce section. I hated the thought of using 6 or 7 sprigs for one recipe, and then not having a plan for the rest.
Today, I have solutions! This might seem obvious to some of you, but it wasn’t to me until I saw it randomly on a home and garden channel in a waiting room a few years back. These fresh herbs are plants that have been taken out of their homes in the ground, where they receive nutrients and water from the wet soil they were living in…just like fresh cut flowers. What do we do to fresh cut flowers to keep them as beautiful as possible for as long as possible?
We snip off the bottom inch of the stem, put them in fresh water and keep them in a cool place! Ever notice that flower shops keep their most delicate blooms in the fridge? This is the answer! There are even some vendors (this one I found when looking for registry items before my wedding) who have this down to a science — containers that fit in the door of your refrigerator so that your fresh herbs will be out ready to go when you need them.
Once I learned this trick, I started to do it with other plants as well — earlier this summer, I flew to Houston for a wedding and brought a huge bag of fresh kale home to my parents. After going 7 hours unrefrigerated, the leaves were looking a little less than lively, so I snipped the bottoms, plunked them into a water-filled glass, and the next morning, they were perfect again. My mom couldn’t believe her eyes! (and couldn’t wait to try them)
I’ve also found success doing this with celery, in fact, I did it last night with celery I pulled from my garden the other day to make room for some new crop. I had no plan for using it, so it sat in the fridge all week. It got a little limp, but after a quick snip and a glass of water…
Right back to normal! Knowing this trick buys me time to figure out what else I can do with herbs and spices I might not use on my average day in the kitchen. I can also keep fresh food longer and limit my waste.
Another good way to use leftover fresh herbs is to throw them into your smoothie. You’d be surprised at the nice flavor lift parsley can give to a blended beverage, not to mention how awesomely healthy it is for you. Most herbs and spices have some type of tonifying quality to them, so throw them in when you can, and don’t let them go bad!