Ok, one more thing related to our super haul from the last farmers’ market last week. It’s also related to a big bag of assorted herbs that some visiting relatives left at our house this summer. They were from the garden, and I made it my “herb challenge” to use every one, and in some cases to figure out what they were. After having fresh oregano in pasta sauce, rosemary potatoes, lemongrass syrup for soda, and tarragon butter – the finale – I decided this was way too much fun to stop just because we got to the bottom of the bag, and I’ve been buying more fresh herbs ever since. They just add such a punch of round, fresh flavor.
This tip for storing them is something we figured out last fall while visiting friends in Bend, OR. You know how basil wilts in the fridge pretty much immediately? Well, the farmer at one stall told us to try putting the stems in a jar with water in the refrigerator, which we did – and it wilted immediately, maybe even faster than in a bag. I was telling this story to another farmer the next week and he said, “But, did you put a plastic bag over the top?”
Aha! This works amazingly well, like some kind of magical super-cold greenhouse. Put the bag loosely over the herbs, and then use a rubber band to keep it tight to the base of the jar. For basil, I also trim the stems just a bit like I would cut flowers. The basil in this picture is already a few days old, it will stay fresh for about a solid week. The other herbs have so far all been eaten before they show signs of wilting.
Hope this inspires you to add some fresh herbs to your fridge!
Update: If your basil stems aren’t long enough for a jar of water, I’ve had good success keeping them sealed tight in a plastic bag in the fridge, with just a little moisture inside. If it seems dry in the bag, I sprinkle in a little water and distribute it by gently mixing the leaves around, then seal the bag again. This works in a cooler too, as long as the leaves don’t touch the ice.