How to Store Fresh Herbs So They Last Longer

A sprinkle of fresh herbs can make any meal feel fancy and special. But it’s a big challenge to use up that remaining bunch of cilantro or parsley before it turns brown and slimy. Storing them the right way helps a lot, below are step-by-step directions on how to store your fresh herbs (like cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and basil) so they last longer.

Fresh parsley in a jar covered with a plastic bag.

How to Store Fresh Basil

Basil is the easiest herb to store. Instead of tossing it in the fridge, you want to treat basil like it’s a bouquet of flowers.

Fresh basil leaves in a small glass mason jar filled with water on a white board.

Start by filling a glass with cool water. Then add the unwashed basil.

Place the jar on your kitchen counter and refresh the water frequently, about every other day.

When you need basil, just grab a few leaves. Give them a gentle rinse, pat dry, and proceed with your recipe.

A bunch of fresh parsley on a cutting board

How to Store Fresh Cilantro, Parsley, Dill, and Mint

Step 1 – Trim The Ends

When you get home from the store instead of tossing your bag of parsley into the crisper, grab a cutting board and knife.

Lay the bunch of parsley on the cutting board and chop off 1/2 inch to 1-inch of the stems.

Step 2 – Rinse and Spin

Add the parsley to a salad spinner and fill it with cold water. *If you don’t have a spinner you can rinse the herbs in a colander and move on to the next step.

Fresh parsley in a salad spinner filled with water.

Use your hand to gently swish the herbs around in the water to help any dirt fall to the bottom. Lift the basket out of the spinner and drain the dirty water.

Repeat the rinsing again if necessary. (Our cilantro is always super dirty!) Next, put the lid on the spinner and give it a light spin. Then dump out any water.

First Photo: Fresh herbs in a salad spinner. Second Photo: Herbs drying on a white dish towel.

Step 3 – Dry Your Herbs Well

Lay the herbs on a clean towel in an even layer to dry. I usually give them about 10 to 15 minutes and then use another clean towel to blot any excess water from the herbs.

Step 4 – Arrange Your Herb Bouquet

Fill a mason jar partially with cool water. Gather the herbs into a bouquet and place them in the jar.

First Photo: Parsley in a mason jar with water. Second Photo: Parsley in mason jar covered with a plastic bag.

You want to make sure the stem bottoms are submerged in the water.

Cover the herbs with a plastic sandwich bag and secure a rubber band at the top of the jar. The idea is to keep as much air out of the bag as possible.

If you don’t have a bag (or don’t want to use one) you can skip this step. I’ve found the herbs tend to get wilted a little from the fridge air but it’s not too bad.

Step 5 – Store In The Fridge

Place the herbs in your fridge. We usually store ours on the top or middle shelf if the herbs are tall like this flat-leaf parsley. But you can put them anywhere in the fridge you want.

A lot of people prefer to put them in the side door by the condiments where they are more out of the way and harder to knock over.

Herbs in a jar and carton of milk inside a fridge.

We’ve tried this method with fresh parsley, cilantro, dill, and mint. All of the herbs lasted for weeks with the parsley hanging in there the longest (over 1 month!).

For the best results:

  • Change the water every 2 to 3 days.
  • Remove yellow or brown leaves as they appear.
  • Wipe out any condensation inside the bag.
First Photo: Fresh rosemary on cutting board. Second Photo: Clean rosemary drying on a white towel.

How to Store Fresh Rosemary and Thyme

You’ve got a few options when it comes to storing hard herbs i.e. those with woody stems like rosemary and thyme. You can keep them in the fridge or even freeze them.

For either method, start by rinsing the herbs with water. Then lay them on a clean towel and pat dry or allow to air dry.

To Store Rosemary In The Fridge

  1. Wet one or two paper towels and squeeze them out.
  2. Arrange rosemary in an even layer on the towels.
  3. Starting at one end, loosely roll up the towel.
  4. Place in a marked plastic bag and refrigerate.
Rosemary on a damp paper towel next to a plastic bag with the words "rosemary" written on it.

The rosemary (or other hard herbs) will last for about two to three weeks when stored this way.

Because most rosemary bunches we buy are huge, I like to keep a little in the fridge and freeze the rest.

First Photo: Rosemary stems in a bag with scissors on a cutting board. Second Photo: Rosemary leaves in a plastic bag.

How to Freeze Rosemary

After rinsing and drying the rosemary you can freeze the leaves right on the stems. Or strip the leaves off and freeze them separately.

Another great option for storing herbs is freezing them with oil or broth in ice cube trays. Then you can easily add the oil and herb cubes to pasta and soups.

More Helpful Kitchen Tips

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article…..it makes me want to use fresh herbs instead of the dried. I have lots of mason jars so my parsley and cilantro will be very happy!

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