Culinarily Yours: Herbs are Like Flowers

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How many times have we purchased herbs only to lose them to a pile of slime in a plastic bag at the bottom of the veggie drawer? With a little bit of effort and attention, those same herbs can last longer and be used more often.

My task, when herbs first come home from the market, is to treat them right. I have a bit of background in floral design, and I apply the same principles to herbs as I would a market bunch of flowers from the floral department.

First, get them out of the plastic wrap and take off the ties. Let them breathe.
Pull out any stems/leaves that are already breaking down.
Rinse them, loosely bunch them and then give them a fresh cut across the bottoms of the stems.
Put them in a small glass of water and keep them in the fridge.
Every couple of days, refresh with new water, remove any stems/leaves that are no longer viable and trim the ends.

This works primarily for herbs with stiffer stems, such as parsley and cilantro. Softer herbs like basil and sage, really should be used fresh off the plant, as they do not hold well. If they do come home from the store, those we typically leave in their “corsage” boxes for safekeeping, but not more than a few days.

Just like flowers in the fridge in the floral department, fresh herbs stand proud at home in the fridge. When we can simply reach in and grab a mini vase of herbs, it becomes easy pickin’s for flavoring and garnishing dishes.

Until next time…

Culinarily Yours,
Mrs. Chef (Christa)

Christa DeMercurio
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, Christa DeMercurio asked her chef husband to be her tutor/mentor/sage (not the herb) for the 2018 year, teaching her his tips, tricks and wisdom in the culinary department. She figured that after over a decade together, their bakers dozen year should be a fun journey of cooking. Her husband, Cal DeMercurio, has been in the food service business since, well, forever (40-ish years). When it comes to the restaurant life, she's been more comfortable in the Back Office and sometimes Front of the House, but never really ventured into the professional kitchen. She's obtained a few skills by observing her husband over the years and then experimenting here and there at home. Now she's ready to take her apprenticeship to the next level. You can read her blog, Culinarily Yours, here.
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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks for the good advice.

  2. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    Our veggie boxes include one dedicated entirely to herbs, so ours always come fresh off the plants.

    We do have a few problems, though: (1) Too much oregano—it escaped the box and now grows freely as a weed below the pluot trees. (2) There’s never enough basil—I can’t grow it fast enough to keep up with how much we use. (3) My wife insists on planting mint in the box—we rarely use it, and it aggressively takes over the box if you don’t yank it out religiously.

    • I’ve had mint die back in the winter, and then come back in the spring and summer and grow without water in gravel, and then send out runners that choked everything it its path. So I think your wife is right to lock away the mint in planters.

      I plant basil every year, and it never really takes off, so I can relate to your basil woes.

      I have a small snip of Mr. Economou’s Greek oregano plant, smuggled onto a ship by his mother from Greece in the early 1900s. My oregano is still in a pot, and I hope it lives long enough for me to give it a permanent home.

  3. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    All good, sage advice . . . . sorry couldn’t resist!

  4. Avatar Candace C says:

    Good to know! My 24 year old daughter has cured me of using the single use plastic bags for most things in the produce department. I was just coming home, taking the produce out and throwing away the bag. It was simply a wasteful habit on my part. I still have to stop myself sometimes from doing it. Old habits die hard sometimes.

  5. Avatar Janine Hall says:

    Thank you for the information. I bring home some cilantro only to throw it away before I can use it. I will be glad to use it thanks to you Christa