Have you ever opened a jar of dried oregano that's been in your cabinet or spice rack for – let's face it, much longer than you'd like to admit – only to take a whiff and realize it smells like... absolutely nothing? I'm sorry to burst your herbaceous bubble, but seasoning your food with (most) dried herbs is the equivalent of infusing it with tiny bits of cardboard. Very sad, but very true. But here's the thing; what are you supposed to use instead? I understand the fresh herb hesitation; they're expensive, they go bad very quickly, and just what the heck are you supposed to do with twenty sprigs of thyme??
Photo courtesy of TLC Cooking
In the most recent issue of Bon Appetit, I came across some brilliant tips on keeping fresh herbs -- well, fresh -- for longer than the one week they seem to last in the refrigerator. If you follow them, you can have fresh herbs at your disposal for up to six months. However, I don't expect them to last that long once you enjoy the difference that just a few fresh leaves of basil, sprigs of rosemary and snips of chive make. So say goodbye to cardboard and say hello to happy, healthy herbs.
1. Treat Herbs Just Like Flowers
Trims the stems at a 45-degree angle, and place in a glass with two inches of water. Refrigerate for up to two weeks (cover the leaves with an unsealed plastic bag to minimize odor absorption) replacing the water if it gets cloudy.
2. Dry Hardy-Leaf Herbs like Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, and Bay Leaves
Working with one herb variety at a time, wash thoroughly, blot dry and spread the leaves on a single layer on a paper towel. Microwave in 30-second intervals turning leaves over for even drying, until crisp and brittle. Microwave times will vary, but the whole process should take no more than two to three minutes total.
3. Freeze Soft-Leaf Herbs Like Dill, Mint, Parsley, Basil, and Chives
Place whole sprigs, chopped leaves, or whole leaves in a tightly sealed plastic bag for up to six months. When cooking, defrosting is unnecessary – just break off leaves and add them to the skillet.