Here is how to prep your herbs for maintaining maximum freshness for a long time.

If you don't enjoy eating gritty lettuce or herbs, you'll want to learn this method!

This process allows you to remove any dirt or insects that might be hidden inside your leafy herbs and vegetables.

1. Never buy herbs that are wilted, yellow, or have holes in the leaves. Select a bunch that is erect in structure and has dark green leaves.

Photo by Cliff G

2. Place the herbs into a deep bowl of cold water, or into a clean, water-filled sink. Use a lot of water when washing herbs--too little water doesn't allow the dirt to settle or the herbs to float clear. Once the herbs are submerged, stir them before leaving them to soak for a moment. Once the dirt has sunk to the bottom of the bowl, remove the herbs by skimming them up and out of the water. (Pouring the bowl's contents through a straining device will only dump the dirt back onto the herbs.) Rinse the bowl or sink free of dirt and repeat this process until the herbs are cleaned to your satisfaction.

3. Once the herbs have been cleaned, spread them out on a dry towel. Carefully blot the herbs with the towel before gently rolling them up around them. Let the bundle sit for a few minutes until the excess water has been absorbed.

4. Pick the leaves off of the stems. For aesthetically perfect and fiber-free herbs, completely remove any trace of the stem. Some herbs like cilantro, however, have edible stems that do not need to be completely removed. Discard or save stems as needed.

5. These herbs are ready for cooking! They can be tossed into a salad or pasta, used whole in a sauce, torn, or chopped. If you'd like some new herb recipes, Fabulous Cilantro Pesto, Beef and Barley Soup, and Fresh Herb Dinner Rolls use herbs in creative and delicious ways.