Tired of herbs wilting right after you bring them home from the store or bring them in from the garden? Try these simple tricks to make fresh herbs last longer!
What Makes Fresh Herbs Go Bad?
One word: moisture.
If you don’t provide any moisture, your herbs will dry out in as little as a few days.
On the other hand, if your herbs are soaked (as they often are at the store), they will get slimy and even moldy very quickly. Not only are they unusable, but slimy herbs will stink up your fridge too!
The Best Way to Keep Herbs Fresh
The key to extending the life of your fresh herbs is to give them just the right amount of moisture, which is why we keep them in glass of water. That way the stems can absorb just as much water as needed, but the leaves stay dry.
If you bought your herbs from the grocery store and they’ve already been blasted with the sprinklers, you’ll want to take a few minutes to thoroughly pat dry the leaves. You can also use a salad spinner to speed up the process, but be careful with delicate plants.
If you’ve picked the herbs right out of your own garden, wait to wash them until you’re ready to use them. That way the leaves don’t get yucky at all.
When filling your cup or mason jar with water, keep the water line below any leaves, if possible. You only want the stems to be submerged.
Change the water as needed, if it becomes greenish or brown.
Should I Keep Fresh Herbs in the Fridge?
Yes! If possible, store your herbs in a cup of water in the fridge. The cool temperature and low humidity helps extend their shelf life even longer.
If you’re short on space in the fridge or worried about spilling the cup of water, you can keep it on the counter instead. Make sure that your herbs are not in direct sunlight or next to a heat source such as the stove.
How Long Do Fresh Herbs Last Once Cut?
With these methods, your fresh cut herbs will generally last 2-3 weeks on average. However, there is a little variation among the different types — some last a little longer than others.
Here are some general guidelines based on my own experience of how long each of these keeps:
- Rosemary: 3 weeks
- Basil: 2-3 weeks
- Lavender: 2-3 weeks
- Mint: 2-3 weeks
- Dill: 2 weeks
- Parsley: 2 weeks
- Oregano: 2 weeks
- Sage: 2 weeks
- Thyme: 3 weeks
- Cilantro: 1-2 weeks
- Chives: 1 week
- Green Onion: 1 week
Download the free printable so you can have this info on hand in your kitchen!
I’ve seen it recommended to store some herbs such as rosemary in a damp paper towel, however, I’ve had good results with the cup of water method for all of the herbs I’ve tried.
Related: How to Prune Basil So it Grows Faster and Fuller
Do Grocery Store Herbs Go Bad Faster than Those from the Garden?
Generally, it doesn’t matter where your herbs come from — how long they stay fresh depends on how you care for them. The reason it may seem like grocery store herbs wilt more quickly is because you don’t know when they were picked.
When you pick herbs from the garden, you’re getting them at peak freshness. Things may have been sitting for a few days in the store, so they may have less time before they start to turn.
Why You Should Grow Your Own Herbs
The awesome things about herbs is that most of them are super easy to grow — whether in an outdoor garden or in a container in your home. We grow almost all of our fresh herbs: mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, lavender, green onion, dill, parsley, and cilantro so far!
Basil is not cold hardy, but all of our other herbs survived a very harsh winter, for Texas standards. Except for cilantro, which must be replanted, these herbs are perennials and will continue to thrive year after year. We actually started our green onion crop from the bulbs of green onions we bought at the store…two years ago! We’ve never had to buy green onion since! (Click here to learn how to re-grown green onion from scraps).