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Using fresh herbs is a great way to kick recipes up a notch. But they can be pricey, so we need to store herbs for maximum shelf life.
What is the best way to keep fresh herbs from wilting and rotting?
1. Loosen them up: As soon as you get herbs home, remove from the packaging or take off rubber bands or twist ties to prevent damage. Skip washing until you are ready to use. Fresh herbs prefer to be barely damp — wet herbs quickly turn into compost.
2. Basil and mint: These do best stored out of the refrigerator. Trim the bottom of the stems. Place in a glass and add about an inch of water to cover the bottom of the stems. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Replenish the water daily. They’ll keep up to two weeks.
3. Most other herbs: Wrap in a barely damp paper towel (or lightweight cloth towel) and store airtight in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or covered container. Check every few days and moisten as needed. They’ll keep up to two weeks.
4. Too many herbs? If you have more than you can use, wash, dry, finely chop and combine with a little olive oil. Freeze in ice cube trays. Pop them out when you want to add herbs to a sauce, salad dressing or rub.
5. In a pinch: Dried herbs can be used instead of fresh in most recipes. Substitute 1 teaspoon for each tablespoon of fresh.
This quick-to-fix vinaigrette doubles as a marinade and dipping sauce. Adjust the sugar to taste.
Whisk together 1 cup red wine vinegar; 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro; 2 Tbsp. seeded and minced jalapeno pepper; 1 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. lime zest; 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard; 2 garlic cloves, pressed; and 1 tsp. kosher salt until blended.
Add 1 cup canola oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth.
Susan Woody has been a food writer for more than 20 years and is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.