Tips & Hints

7 Ways to Use Leftover Fresh Herbs

As temperatures rise, so do the abundance of fresh herbs we can easily get our hands on. And if you are anything like us, your eyes can’t resist the magic of the fresh green leaves when you see them at the store. Their herb fragrance captivates you instantly and you end up buying way more than you need for that single recipe you’re shopping for. There is nothing wrong with that except the short lifespan of the fresh herbs. Once you take them home you have limited time to decide on what to make with the few extra sprigs. So we’ve rounded up some ideas for using up those extra fresh herbs:

1. Keep fresh herbs in the refrigerator

This one is the most obvious way to store fresh herbs but let us teach you one super easy trick which works really well, and keeps fresh herbs fresh and usable for up to a couple of weeks. All you need is a jar with water and a plastic bag. Don’t pre-wash the herbs, just snip off the bottom of the stems, place them in a jar partially filled with water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and place in the fridge. When stored this way, fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, mint, and other can last up to 2 weeks.

Tip: Keep in mind that fresh basil is a sun-loving herb and it is best stored at room temperature because the cold temperature in the fridge will cause the basil leaves to turn black fairly quickly.

2. Make fresh herb centerpiece

Fresh herbs in a vase, cup, or jar can be a beautiful bouquet to display on your kitchen counter. Since you'll see and smell the herbs, you're more likely to use them than if they were chilling in the fridge. Pick a vase or another glass container, add enough water and place the herbs in it. Make sure all stems reach the water and there are no herb leaves below the waterline. Set the vase near a window or in a well-lit area.

Tip: To keep the herbs fresh for longer, don’t wash them until you're ready to use them because the moisture can rot their leaves.

3. Dry fresh herbs the proper way

Air drying is one of the traditional ways to preserve fresh herbs. First you should gently wash the herbs and remove any damaged leaves. Then you have two options. Option ONE is to tie the herbs in loose bunches and hang them. Option TWO is to pick a tray and put the herbs in a single layer. No matter which option you choose, you will need to place the herbs in a warm, well-ventilated area out of the sun.

Tip: Drying concentrates the flavor of herbs. So when the time comes to use your dried herbs you may need to only use one-third the amount of fresh herbs in recipes.

4. Make herb infused oil

You can easily make your own herb infused oil at home to drizzle over a dish of pasta, great artisan bread or a fancy salad. The fastest way to infuse olive oil is on the stove. You start by heating the oil and fresh herbs over medium-low heat. Once the mixture cools, you strain the herbs and store the oil as normal.

5. Freeze fresh herbs in ice cubes

One of our preferred ways to store extra fresh herbs is by freezing them in ice cubes. The whole process is so easy – simply pack each mold of the ice tray halfway with herbs, halfway with water and then freeze. Mint and basil ice cubes are our favorite to use in herb infused waters or in refreshing summer cocktails.

6. Go the grandma style

If you want to preserve the freshness of the herbs for cooking but you don’t have a freezer, you can always do what your grandmother did -  store them in an air-tight container with salt. Simply cover the container’s bottom in a thick layer of salt, then add herbs and continue alternating until the container is full. Just make sure the last layer is salt.

7. Whip a Compound Butter

Making compound butter is an easy and practical way to enhance the flavor in various dishes. Mix your finely chopped herbs with room-temperature butter. Spread on bread, add to steaks, use for cooking or freeze!

Next time you end up with fresh herb-surplus, don’t throw them away or let them go bad!

Use one of these ideas and let us know on social media!