Don’t you just love the freshness and flavor of Ruby Tuesday’s Garden Herb dressing? I know I do, which is why I always make it a point to stock up on fresh herbs whenever I’m at the farmer’s market. I like to make my own salad dressing whenever there’s extra time to get busy in the kitchen.
If you are also thinking of stocking up on herbs, the first thing you need to know is how to properly store them so they last a long time. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Wash the herbs.
You can do this by filling your salad spinner water, preferably cold. Then gently swirl the herbs in the water to get rid of dirt and debris. Then remove the water and spin your herbs until they’re dry. Set them in a container lined with paper towels and pat gently to blot and eliminate excess moisture.
2. Store herbs properly.
Hardy herbs should be arranged lengthwise in one layer on a slightly damp paper towel then roll them up. Transfer them in a Ziploc bag or plastic wrap. Store inside the refrigerator. Tender herbs should be stored by first snipping off the stem’s base and removing any wilted or discolored leaves. Put them in a large jar with about an inch of water and seal the lid or cover with a plastic wrap, and then store in the fridge. You can keep herbs for 1-3 weeks when stored correctly.
3. Consider alternative storage methods.
There are times when you purchase more herbs than what you’d normally need for a period of time. If this is the case, you can opt to either dry them or freeze them. Dried herbs can be used for a few months and are best for applications like long-cooked stews or spice rubs. Drying can be done using a microwave or even a dehydrator. Freezing herbs will make them OK for pasta and pan sauces, although some are also used in fresh-herb recipes.
You can freeze hardy herbs in the same way you’d store them in your refrigerator. You roll them into an herb burrito and then put in a resealable bag then store in the freezer. Just be sure to label them so you don’t forget what’s in there. Tender herbs can be chopped up and mixed with olive or canola oil, then placed in ice cube trays or freezer bags before putting in the freezer.
Whether you’ve bought them in a farmer’s market, your backyard or a supermarket, fresh herbs are always nice to have around. Herbs give your dish more flavor and you can use them as the foundation in many sauces too.
But herbs, specially the tender green ones, are fragile. If you don’t store them properly they can turn into a pile of green mush in just a couple of days. By following the tips we’ve mentioned above, you can keep your herbs fresh and usable for a couple of weeks or even months.