Everything I Knew About Storing Herbs Was Wrong!!

July 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Little Flourishes Like Parsley,  Make Food Seem Cared For



dying herbs

That quote about parsley comes from my mentor, Tamar Adler. What would she say of this jar of dying herbs. After all, she says in her bible on how to approach food, An Everlasting Meal, “I recommend buying a bunch of parsley whenever you can;” because as she explains, “everything needs parsley.” She devotes a whole chapter in Everlasting Meal, called, “How to Light a Room”, on the joys, the benefits, the utility of parsley and all fresh herbs. This chapter even includes, nicely enough, advice on storing herbs.  She instructs, “picked off stem and put in closed container.”

I guess I failed the Master. I probably did notice when she said of storing herbs, “I used to follow common advice to store herbs in a jar of water in the refrigerator, but invariably I knocked the jar over at some point.” Yeah, that was me. Who has a fridge so spare of room that a jar of herbs wading in water can sit safe from knocking. That’s the part that stuck with me. I thought I knew then what to do. Thought I had it down. I would split the difference. I would stick my herbs in water but not put the jar in the fridge. Make sense.

Maybe.  I never did the picked off stem and put in closed container thing.  Here’s the thing I missed. My birdbrain brain had the bright idea that plants grow best in the sun. I thought if my jar of herb water was by a sunny window, my parsley would prosper and all my food would seem so cared for.  No need for stinking fridge.  And what happened.  Nothing feels cared for with yellowed parsley. Why was this not working. Did not plants need sun. Photosynthesis.

I googled. Everything I thought I knew was wrong. Turns out this guy likes fresh herbs as much as Tamar, and did all the work needed to fix my problems. Except I’m not going to follow his advice. I mean it seems like good advice. Smart advice for Tamar and I. See, there’s a way to manage the inevitable spills that happen when sticking a jar or herb water in your fridge. Put a lid on it. J Kienji Lopez-Alt wants the lid as a way of keeping the herbs away form deadly oxygen. To me, it seems like a brilliant way to avoid mess. It is advice that I would be prone to follow. After all he kept cilantro vibrant for 51 days in his fridge, using his ways. Ways meaning wash, spin dry, towel dry, and store in a jar with an inch of water AND a lid. He shows how to do it with deli plastic quart containers, things I have lots of at home. I would do it for sure. For sure if, if I had room in my fridge. Safe from spilling does not still create room. I’m trying to manage fridge-less herbs. Because now I know this from Mr. Lopez-Alt:

Excessive exposure to light can damage chlorophyll, causing herbs to turn yellow. This is especially true for thin, delicate herbs like parsley, chervil, or cilantro. Stored in a sunny spot, delicate herbs will start to yellow within days.

So plan B is in water but away from light. That’s where my parsley is now, in water but in a darker spot in the Bungalow. I hope this works. Everything I thought I knew about storing herbs may have been wrong, but knowing the right way does not mean I have to change everything I do.