You can make fresh leafy herbs last longer by doing a very simple thing as soon as you unpack your grocery bags.

By Vanessa Greaves
Updated January 25, 2021
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I love adding the bright color and clean flavor of fresh herbs to all kinds of recipes. But I hate it when the leafy herbs I brought home from the market wilt before I can use them up. Then I have to throw them out or pick through all the yellow leaves to find the few that are still fresh. And worse, I feel guilty about wasting money. Fortunately, there's an easy solution. Here's everything you need to know about how to store fresh herbs so they actually stay fresh.

How to Make a Fresh Leafy Herb Bouquet

The way to keep fresh, leafy herbs from wilting before you can use them all up is to treat them like a bouquet of fresh flowers. What do you do with fresh flowers? You put them in water. It's truly as simple as it sounds, but there are a couple of important tips I've learned to make this work best.

You can do this with all leafy herbs that have soft stems, such as parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, dill, and mint. Herbs with hard stems, such as rosemary and thyme, can be held in water if they're very fresh — otherwise they might be too dried out to absorb water.

fresh parsley in a jar of water
Credit: Vanessa Greaves

Here's What You'll Need

  • A bunch of leafy herbs
  • Cloth or paper towels
  • Knife or kitchen scissors
  • Jar or cup
  • Plastic bag large enough to fit over the leaves

Directions

  1. Rinse herbs in cool water to remove soil. Discard any yellowed leaves and stems. Blot dry with paper towels.
  2. Gather the herbs into a bouquet and snip a bit off the bottom of the stems using a knife or scissors to even them up and allow water to come into contact with the freshly cut stems.
  3. Put a couple of inches of fresh water in the jar and add your leafy herb bouquet, making sure the bottoms of all the stems are covered by water. If any leaves are below the water level, strip them off and use them up first.
  4. Cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag. This keeps the leaves humid but allows airflow.
  5. Put the jar in the fridge.

How Long Will Fresh Herbs Last This Way?

Your leafy herb bouquet will stay fresh for two or three weeks, depending on how fresh they were when you bought them. Remember to change the water a couple of times a week, remove any yellowed leaves, and give the stems a fresh trim once a week. This ensures your herb bouquet won't turn slimy and smelly.

Another way to keep leafy any herb fresh is to wash and dry it, wrap it in a lightly dampened paper towel, put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the fridge for up to a week. On the plus side, this method saves shelf space. On the minus side, I lose sight of the herbs and forget they're in there — something I never do when there's a bright green bouquet of herbs waving hello every time I open the fridge.