How to Prepare Fresh Herbs for Cooking

Washing and prepping fresh herbs. OWN

If you’ve only ventured into the territory of dried, cut, and sifted seasonings that were plucked from the shelves of your local supermarket, we invite you to try something fresh. Fresh herbs that is! Plucked from earth instead of a shelf, working with fresh herbs is as simple as clean, cut, and use. Put down that glass tarragon shaker and opt for the leafy green version instead. Don’t be afraid to perk up the flavor in your food, drink, or dessert with a shot of mint or basil. You can find bunches of herbs at your local grocery store, neighborhood farmer’s market, or even your own garden. After bringing home your herbal bounty, you may be wondering what to do next. First thing’s first, you need to give your herbs a bath!

 

To show us how to properly wash and prepare fresh herbs to use in our foodie adventures, the Harvest Day team at OWN dropped a video. Take a look at the method below to learn about managing your thyme (and other herbs)!

Supplies

Large bowl

Cold water

Paper towels

Instructions

  1. Pick a handful of herbs and thoroughly inspect your sprigs for signs of wilting, yellowing, or blackening, and discard those that aren’t fit for use.
    Choosing fresh herbs from a bunch.OWN
  2. Place them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit for 1 minute.
    Fresh herbs in bath of cold water.OWN
  3. Remove herbs from bowl, checking to make sure any dirt or bugs have been removed, and discard the water. Place them back in the bowl and add fresh water.
    Adding fresh water to bowl of fresh herbs.OWN
  4. After another minute, remove them from the bowl and shake off excess water. Lay them on a paper towel, and cover with another paper towel, pressing down gently.
    Patting fresh herbs dry with paper towel.OWN
  5. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and remove the paper towel.
    Fresh herbs clean and ready to use.

Because moisture can contribute to an early herb death, it’s important to wash your herbs only when you’re ready to use them. After you have cleaned your herbs thoroughly, there are several things you can do besides eating them – including preserving, drying, or freezing. Bon Appétit recommends wrapping them loosely in a moist paper towel and putting them in an airtight container in the fridge. A plastic zipper bag can also be used, just keep it stowed in your crisper.

Soft-leafed herbs like parsley, cilantro, or basil can keep for up to three weeks if cleaned and stored properly. Odd but true, basil can be kept on the counter with the stems in a jar of water for almost a month! Rosemary, thyme, or other hardier herbs do well if sealed up in a plastic bag for up to two weeks.

There you have it! Clean, green, fragrant herb machines ready to work courtesy of OWN. Dazzle your family and friends with your Chopped-like skills and have them say, “Hey, there’s live parsley in my soup!”  Whether you’re a novice cook or a culinary genius, you can liven up your recipes with the help of flavorful and nutritious herbal additions. Do you like cooking with fresh herbs? Let us know how you work with them in the comments!