Certain delicate herbs, such as basil, chervil, chives and parsley, taste best when used fresh. They loose most of their flavor when dried.
Preserving Fresh Herbs
Gather the herbs into a bundle and wrap the bottom of the stems with a moist paper towel. Place the bundle into a resealable plastic bag and store the bag in the vegetable or fruit bin of your refrigerator. Herbs can be stored in this manner for between 2 and 5 days before they will start to wilt.
An alternative method for temporarily storing fresh herbs is to place them in a tall glass which has been filled with 2 to 3 inches of water. Place the herb-filled glass on a countertop in your kitchen making sure to keep it away from the heat of your oven. Change the glass of water every day or two to keep the herbs fresh. Fresh herbs may last for up to one week using this storage method.
Storing Fresh Herbs in Oil
A slightly more permanent way to store fresh herbs is to pack them into a glass jar that is filled with a good quality olive oil. Make sure the herbs you are going to use are completely dried off as even a small amount of moisture can cause the oil to go rancid. Use a wide-mouth container with a screw-on-lid such as a pint size canning jar. Place the herbs into the jar then fill to the top with oil. Press the herbs down into the oil using the back of a spoon to ensure there is no air trapped in the jar.
The color of the herb leaves will darken slightly once they are covered with the oil but their taste will not be affected. Herbs can be stored in this way for up to 2 weeks if properly refrigerated, any longer and the herbs may begin to grow mold which can pose a health hazard. Remove whatever quantity of herb you need for cooking from the jar letting the excess oil drip back into the jar. When all of the herb has been used up you will have a wonderful herb infused oil which can be used to make a variety of sauces and dressings or for stir frying meats and vegetables.
Storing Fresh Herbs in Salt
Another method that can be used to store fresh herbs is to store them in salt. Choose a shallow container and place a layer of kosher salt on the bottom then add a single layer of the herb that is being preserved. Continue alternating layers of salt and herb until all the herb has been used up. Make sure the final layer is salt then place the lid on the container and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to use take whatever quantity of herb you need out of the salt. The longer the herbs remain in the salt, the more dried out they will become but the flavor should not be affected. Herbs can successfully be stored in salt for up to 2 months.