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Keeping fresh herbs

  1. Aug 5, 2005 #1

    Monique

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    I often buy fresh herbs in the store, mostly coriander and mint, and store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.. but then after a few days they wilt :frown: Anyone advice what's the best way to keep them good?

    I guess I'm going to try and keep them out of a refrigerator and put them in a glass of water and see how they keep up :smile: I've tried growing them as a plant, but the problem there is that after a few days all the leaves have been used up in various dishes and only the stalks are left :tongue:
     
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  3. Aug 5, 2005 #2

    ZapperZ

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    First of all, wash them thoroughly. Then use one of those salad spinner thingy and spin them dry. The more moisture you remove from the leaves, the less likely they become mouldy. Next, find some paper towels, preferably use two connecting sheets. Lay down your herbs flat on the towels. Spread them out evenly on top of the paper towel. Now gently like you're rolling a jelly roll (or a sushi), roll the paper towel along the short side. The roll should not be too tight, but shouldn't be too loose that the herbs fall out.

    Once you reach the end, store it either in an air tight plastic bag, or plastic container in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh longer than if you just leave it in a plastic bag. This technique works well with leafy lettuce also.

    Zz.
     
  4. Aug 5, 2005 #3

    DocToxyn

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    What you need to do is keep the plant hydrated and alive but keep the leaves from coming into direct contact with water. The plastic bag will keep the water in, but it also keeps it on the leaves. When this is combined with particularly fragile herbs like coriander (cilantro) the end result is rotting herbs within days.

    Here are my suggestions, if you are going to use them up within a few days keep then as you would flowers in a vase with water in a cool part of the kitchen. This is pretty much the only way you can keep annual herbs such as basil and cilantro, the perrenials such as sage, mint, thyme, rosemary...can be refridgerated. Just layer them between paper towels and put in a zip-top bag or a good sealable container. If you absolutely have to store the fragile herbs longer, some say you can put them in the fridge. You can go out and find special herb containers for the refridgerator or just use a tall narrow container and put water in the bottom, then the herbs and keep in the door or "warmer" area of the fridge, loosely covered (change water daily). You might get a week out of them, but some flavor will be lost.

    My only other suggestion is start sharing the herbs with your friends. Sometimes the bunches I buy at the store as too much for me to use fast enough so I give them to others who can use them. It can get them into cooking and hopefully, they'll share their extras with you.

    Here are some sources of additional info - cooks illustrated, herbfarm cookbook
     
  5. Aug 5, 2005 #4

    Monique

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    Those are some good advices, I'll try the paper-towel-plastic-bag method after I see how keeping them in some water goes. The good thing of keeping them out of the refrigerator is that the whole house now smells of mint :biggrin:

    I always get my herbs from the local grocer at the corner, I get a huge bunch for only 40 cents. I can go to the local supermarket down the street and buy a bunch that's 1/5 the size and pay three times the money.. rediculous really.

    And I always wash my herbs thoroughly, after watching a Discovery Channel documentary about a parsley-borne lysteria outbreak :eek:
     
  6. Aug 5, 2005 #5
    The way i always ensure i have fresh herbs is to grow them. Corriader is a bit of a nightmare but mint is probably the easiest to grow, just make sure you grow it in a pot or it will try to take over your garden!
     
  7. Aug 5, 2005 #6

    Moonbear

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    Herbs like that make wonderful ground cover. It's so much nicer to have something like mint or thyme that gives a nice scent when you walk past the garden rather than boring ivy or other usual ground covers.
     
  8. Aug 5, 2005 #7

    wolram

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    We have had mint growing just out side the kitchen window for donkeys
    years, it makes every thing smell nice.
     
  9. Aug 5, 2005 #8
    Mint is definitely easy - put it in the ground and you'll have it forever!!!

    Coriander is easy here - so must be climate dependent. Germinates fast from seed, grows quickly, and then bolts. I suggest successive plantings, if you are in a climate where it grows well.

    Letting one plant go to seed will give you enough seed to keep going for a long time.
     
  10. Aug 5, 2005 #9
    becareful w/ mint. it can take over your whole herb garden. had it happen to me before
     
  11. Aug 5, 2005 #10

    brewnog

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    I grow all the ones I need. Never had success with corriander though, it's a nightmare, which is a pity because I have a few (excellent) dishes which need masses of it.

    It's crazy, I can grow a massive chilli pepper bush, but can't even get corriander to take.
     
  12. Aug 5, 2005 #11

    fuzzyfelt

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    mmmmmmm....coriander....
    Would you care to share some of your recipes that use masses of coriander with us please, Brewnog?
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2005
  13. Aug 5, 2005 #12

    saltydog

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    Spagetti: fresh mint in the meatballs, fresh basil in the gravy (don't store it, grow it). Bunch of other things too :tongue2: . Yum.
     
  14. Aug 5, 2005 #13

    Monique

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    I would be drinking fresh mint tea everyday, I don't think the supply would last very long :wink:

    I've got some people coming over tomorrow so I'll be cooking chickpeas (really easy to do). Fry onion in pan, add cumin seeds, cumin powder and coriander powder with some chillies. Then add loads of tomatoes and cook to a sauce. Add chickpeas and cook until done with some water. Add loads of fresh coriander and some mint and you've got a wonderful dish.
     
  15. Aug 5, 2005 #14

    fuzzyfelt

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    Yum, Monique, you're making me very hungry, wonder where I can find some chickpeas this at this time of the night! :smile:
     
  16. Aug 5, 2005 #15

    brewnog

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    The first real, proper meal (dinner party style) I ever cooked was Lemony Chicken in Fresh Coriander. Got the recipe from Madhur Jaffrey, but it's not really typical of most Indian food, and is served as well with roast potatoes as with buttery rice. But this is absolutely gorgeous.

    2 pieces fresh ginger root, - 1 inch cubes (chopped)
    2.5 lbs skinned chicken breasts
    5 cloves garlic
    10 ozs fresh chopped coriander, finely chopped
    1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    2 tsps ground cumin
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1 tsp salt
    2 tbsp lemon juice

    Put the ginger and 1/4 cup water into a blender or processor. Blend until you have a paste.

    Put the oil in a wide, heavy, pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in as many chicken pieces as pan will hold in a single layer, and brown on both sides. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. Brown all the chicken pieces this way.

    Add the garlic to the hot oil. As soon as the pieces turn a medium-brown
    colour, turn heat to medium and pour in the ginger paste. Stir-fry it for a
    minute. Now add the fresh coriander, jalapeno, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Stir and cook for a minute.

    Put in all the chicken pieces as well as any liquid that might have accumulated in the chicken bowl. Add 2/3 cup water and the lemon juice. Stir
    and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.

    Turn the chicken pieces over. Cover again and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is tender. If the sauce is too thin, uncover the pan and boil some of it away over a slightly higher heat.
     
  17. Aug 6, 2005 #16

    Evo

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    Mint sends out underground runners and spreads like wildfire. :grumpy: You can place cement blocks underground to contain the roots when you plant it to keep it from spreading.

    I read a neat trick to saving fresh herbs. Put them in ice cube trays and cover with a bit of water. When they're frozen , you can pop them out and store in plastic bags. When you need some, just drop the "herb cube" into what you are cooking.
     
  18. Aug 6, 2005 #17

    fuzzyfelt

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    :smile: Brilliant, thankyou, there'll be a dinner party down here (Sheffield is north, is it?) before long with Lemony Chicken a la Brewnog!
    I can't go more than a couple of days without coriander so I go through a lot of recipes, thanks. (Same applies to rocket, too)
     
  19. Aug 6, 2005 #18

    Tom Mattson

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    That's exactly what I do. But real trick is that you shouldn't buy more than you can use in a few days. You'll make more trips to the grocery store, but you'll waste less. I thought that I could keep herbs fresh for a week in a glass of water, and I was proven wrong in about 4 days.
     
  20. Aug 6, 2005 #19

    Moonbear

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    Are the herbs fresh enough to keep in a glass of water? If they've been sitting on the store shelf out of water, it probably won't help to put them in water. If you're getting them from someone who keeps them in water from the time they are cut or gets them to you right after cutting, like at a farmer's market, it might work. Otherwise, just the refrigeration alone might be what keeps them looking fresh.

    I prefer having a garden...but I won't have one anymore when I move. :cry: I'm going to ask my building owner if they'll let me put in a small garden behind my deck since I've seen a few other units have those.
     
  21. Aug 6, 2005 #20

    ZapperZ

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    But you can grow some herbs indoors. I have a south-facing bay window. I grow basil and oregano and they sprout like mad. I had italian parsley also but those are now gone.

    Zz.
     
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