Fresh herbs provide unique flavor profiles that enhance the taste and liveliness of dishes. Herbs fall into general categories: tender or hard stem. Tender herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, tarragon, and basil, have soft stems, while rosemary, thyme, and oregano have hard, woody stems. Each of these different types of herbs require a distinct set of instructions for storage and use. HHS’ culinary team shares techniques that’ll make it easy for you to incorporate herbs into your mealtime routine and properly store them.
Tender Herbs: Parsley, Cilantro, and Basil
Trim the ends of the stems.
Remove brown or wilted leaves.
Fill a glass with an inch of water.
Store in the refrigerator.
Change the water as needed or as it starts to discolor.
This technique also works well with tarragon, mint, and dill.
Wash when ready to use.
For basil, leave uncovered and store on the counter near the window.
Hard Herbs: Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano
On a damp paper towel, arrange herbs lengthwise in a single layer.
Loosely roll up and transfer to a resealable bag.
Store in the refrigerator.
This technique also works well with sage, savory, and chives.
Don’t chop herbs until ready to use.
Use a sharp knife so they cut rather than crush. All herbs should be chopped. The finer you chop them, the more oils/flavor will be released.
Remove the stems of hard herbs before use. Either run your fingers along the stem in the opposite direction from how the leaves grow, or try pulling the stem through a colander to catch all the leaves and remove the stem.
Fresh herbs vs. dried: use 3x the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried
Cilantro: The stems have more flavor than the leaves, don’t remove them
Basil: Chiffonade to release more flavor
Parsley - 3 weeks
Dill - 3 weeks
Cilantro - 3 weeks
Mint - 2 weeks
Tarragon - 3 weeks
Basil - 2 weeks
Rosemary - 3 weeks
Oregano - 2 weeks
Thyme - 2 weeks
Sage - 2 weeks
Savory - 2 weeks
Chives - 1 week
Licorice and clove flavor.
Add it at the end of cooking to maximize flavor.
Use in/with: tomatoes, garlic, pasta, chicken, pizza, pesto
Basil comes in many varieties including sweet basil, Thai basil, holy basil, Genovese basil, Italian large leaf basil. Genovese, Italian, and sweet basil are most commonly used in Italian or Mediterranean dishes. Thai and holy basil are best suited for Asian dishes.
Herbal and floral flavor.
Put it in at the beginning, remove before serving.
Use in/with: slow-cooked sauces, soups & stews, lentils.
Light oniony taste.
Use raw or at the end of cooking.
Use in/with: eggs, potatoes, soups and stews, salads
Bright and citrusy.
Can be used at the beginning or end of cooking.
Use in/with: salsas, curries, soups, vinaigrettes
Celery, fennel, and parsley flavor.
Fresh is better than dried. Add at the beginning or end of cooking.
Use in/with: fish, hard boiled eggs, chicken, summer squash, dressings
Sweet and fresh
Peppermint is stronger than spearmint. Can be used at the beginning or end of cooking.
Use in/with: pork chops, jellies, berries, cocktails
Hint of sweetness and spiciness.
Dried it has a strong and robust flavor. Add at the beginning of cooking.
Use in/with: pizza, pastas, dressings, pesto
Some common varieties of oregano include Greek, Italian, and Mexican. Each variety has its own unique flavor profile and is best suited for dishes from their country of origin.
Flat is more peppery. Curly is relatively bland.
Flat holds up better in longer cooking. Curly is great as a garnish.
Use in/with: stews, soups, meatballs, vegetables, salads
Add whole stems at the beginning and remove before serving. If chopping, remove stems and dice leaves very finely.
Use in/with: potatoes, poultry, fish, marinades
Slightly peppery with a touch of mint.
Robust flavor best with heavy foods. Add at the beginning of cooking.
Use in/with: sausages, stuffing, risotto, potatoes, tomato sauces
Sweet, mild pungent.
Pairs well when cooked with parsley and bay leaves. Can be added at the beginning.
Use in/with: broths, poultry, marinades, stuffings