Store Bought Herbs
Store bought is not the end of the world, but we can not all have a large garden and don’t always have access to all types – however as Jamie mentions in the video above, a simple windowsill is enough. But if you are going to buy in the store from the bottle, you should make sure to give them the longest life possible. Make sure the cap is always secured tightly. Do not store your dried herbs above the stove, this is a common mistake. The humidity will make there way in an cause clumping or spoil them. There is noting sadder the opening up the basil and it not smelling like anything.
Fresh Herbs / Homegrown
Even though you are growing your own herbs, does not mean that bugs do not touch them or that they do not get dirt on them – especially if they are being grown outside. Washing your herbs before storing them, if they need it, will help extend there lifespan. Take a large bowl filled with cold water, submerge your herbs in the water and stir them abit. Take the herbs out and pat dry with towels, then use them for you cooking that day or store them for later. Remember that moist herbs – moister then they are naturally (ie. the ones you have just washed) are prone to mold and rot, make sure you leave them spread out to dry toughly when you are done washing them.
Herbs should be stored in an air-tight container. Since we are avoiding one use plastic, then a glass jar is a great option here. Store herbs whole, then when you are ready to use them you can crush or chop them. Make sure when you put them away they are out of the sunlight and in a cool dry place. Most properly dried herbs should last one year – however if you notice they are loosing their color, that is a good indicator they are going bad. When using herbs, one teaspoon dried is equivalent to one tablespoon fresh.
The best way to dryherbs is to air-dry them. This slow process allows them to keep there oils. This process works best with herbs that don’t have a high moisture content, like Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Thyme. Moisture dense herbs like Basil, Chives, Mint, Tarragon preserve better in a dehydrator. if you can, never use the oven or microwave to dry herbs.. this damages them.
If you have grown to much thyme for example, it is a herb that freezes well. Put the thyme, stem and all, in a freezer bag and it should last up to 6 months in the freezer. Same thing for rosemary, parsley, dill, basil, and cilantro: pull of the leaves and chop them up – coat with olive oil and place in freezer bag. Moisture dense herbs like the ones listed above, do much better when frozen then dry ones. I have heard of people freezing them in ice cube trays – then when you need some, you are able to get a small portion.