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How to Use Fresh Herbs in Cooking + How to Store Them

Collage of fresh herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, and parsley.

Fresh herbs add a wonderful flavour to almost any dish and can transform a most ordinary food into an enjoyable meal. In addition, fresh herbs are nutrition powerhouses full of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which protect the body against diseases. When shopping for fresh herbs, choose herbs that look bright and crisp and don’t have spoiled parts.

How to Store Fresh Herbs

Storing fresh herbs can be frustrating as they are very fragile and go bad very fast. I have experimented with many ways of storing fresh herbs and came to the conclusion that the best way to keep them fresh longer is to cut off the bottoms of the stems, place the herbs in a glass of water and put them in the fridge (the same way fresh flowers are stored in a flower shop). Also, make sure that the leaves are dry and don’t forget to change the water every couple of days.

How to Freeze Herbs

Fresh herbs can also be frozen. It’s better to wash and chop the herbs before freezing them in a sealed plastic bag. Do not defrost the herbs before using them – add them directly to soups, stir-fry, and sauces, or blend them into salad dressings.

How to Use Fresh Herbs in Cooking

Fresh herbs retain more nutrition if they are not heated. Therefore, it’s better to use them in salads or sprinkle the chopped herbs on top of the dish. If you add fresh herbs to soups or stir-fry, add them towards the end of cooking to preserve more flavour and nutrients.

My Favourite Fresh Herbs:

1. Basil

Basil tastes great with fresh –sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and goes well with chicken, fish, and pasta sauce.

2. Chives

Chives are a milder substitute for onions. It tastes great in salads, soups, omelettes and can also be added to cream cheese or yogurt to make a spread or topping.

3. Cilantro

Cilantro is wonderful in green salads, salsas, and avocado dip. It can also be added to soups and stir-fry.

4. Dill

Dill is best added to green salads. It also gives a wonderful aroma to egg, potato or tuna salads.

5. Mint

Mint goes well with fruit and can be added to fruit salads. It also makes a refreshing herbal tea.

6. Parsley

Parsley gives salads, soups, and stir-fry lots of flavour. Italian parsley has better flavour and is more nutritious than curly leaf parsley.

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