Featured Ingredient Cooking Tips

How to Store & Use Fresh Herbs

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.

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Storing Herbs

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.

Herb Techniques

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.

Pro Tips: 

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

Herb Lifespan

Tender

Parsley - 3 weeks

Dill - 3 weeks

Cilantro - 3 weeks

Mint - 2 weeks

Tarragon - 3 weeks

Basil - 2 weeks

Hard

Rosemary - 3 weeks

Oregano - 2 weeks

Thyme - 2 weeks

Sage - 2 weeks

Savory - 2 weeks

Chives - 1 week

Cooking Tips

Basil

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. 

Bay Leaves

Herbal and floral flavor.

Put it in at the beginning, remove before serving.

Use in/with: slow-cooked sauces, soups & stews, lentils.

Chives

Light oniony taste.

Use raw or at the end of cooking. 

Use in/with: eggs, potatoes, soups and stews, salads

Cilantro

Bright and citrusy.

Can be used at the beginning or end of cooking.

Use in/with: salsas, curries, soups, vinaigrettes

Dill

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

Mint

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

Oregano

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. 

Parsley

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

Rosemary

Pine-like, astringent.

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

Sage

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

Thyme

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