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Keeping Herbs Fresh Bouquet-Style

A Vase of Water Does the Trick

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Fresh herbs in glasses
Brian MacDonald/Photodisc/Getty Images

Do you routinely toss fresh herbs because they've gone bad before you've gotten a chance to use them? Keep them fresher, longer by storing them in vases of water, bouquet-style. Here's how:

  • Select a clean vase or glass with a mouth wide enough to accomodate the bunch of herbs. Make sure the container you choose is deep enough to hold the stems, but not so deep that the herb leaves will be submerged underwater.
  • Add at least 1 to 2 inches of water to the vase. Let the depth and shape of the vase guide you -- the object is to provide enough water to keep the herbs fresh, and to make sure the herb stems can reach the water. Remove any herb leaves that would fall below the waterline. Trim the bottoms of the stems if they look sealed off or dry, just as you would with cut flowers before placing them in water.
  • Place the herbs in the vase, and set the vase near a window or in a well-lit area. Sun-loving herbs like basil can be stored this way at room temperature.
  • If you prefer to refrigerate your herbs, tent a plastic bag over the vase.

This technique works best with herbs that have fairly sturdy stems, like parsley, mint, basil or rosemary. Herbs that still have roots attached -- as basil and mint often do -- thrive particularly well, and will sometimes send new roots into the water. Another advantage -- since you'll see and smell the herbs, you're more likely to use them than if they were languishing in the fridge drawer.

Tip: It's fine to rinse the stems, but don't wash the herb leaves until you're ready to use them, unless they are extremely dirty or sandy -- the moisture can rot the leaves. If you must rinse the herbs, be sure to dry them well before storage.

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