Fresh herbs can make or break a culinary confection. They are both visually stimulating and tastefully delectable. They add color, texture and flavor to any dish.
The question most asked of me about herbs is what to do with what is left over from the precious bunch so that it can be used the next time with equal freshness and flavor. There are several methods I employ:
For short term, about a week, treat them like cut flowers, putting the ends in an appropriate size glass container. You don’t want the leaves to be too wet or dry, just fresh (except basil which should never have water on the leaves until you are ready to use them, water will make them black). Loosely and carefully wrap the leaves in paper toweling to prevent condensation from forming on the leaves and hence letting rot set in. Cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.
The second method is for preserving the herbs long term. You can also use this method if you grow your own and want to have them all winter. Separate leaves from stems and wash and dry them thoroughly. Put them in a food processor or blender with a little liquid appropriate to the intended future use, such as olive oil for basil or water or fruit juice for mint. The consistency should be a paste, not too liquid. Place a tablespoon or two in each partition of a plastic ice cube tray. Wrap the tray tightly in plastic wrap and place in an airtight zipper type plastic bag. Be sure to label and date the bag and store in the freezer. You will be able to pop each portion out one by one as needed with a butter knife, or a twist to the tray.
Another method is to place the cleaned leaves or whole stems with leaves in oil or vinegar in a pretty bottle or jar. Seal it tightly and store in the refrigerator, labeling with herb name, liquid name and date. The oil or vinegar will become infused with the aroma and flavor, and sometimes the color of the herbs. You can use the liquids in cooking, sauces and dressings. You could put a ribbon on one for a gift if you have an abundance.
No need to waste those precious leftover herbs anymore.