Eight Super Easy Ways To Keep Your Fresh Herbs In ‘Mint’ Condition
Is the weather getting the best of your herbs? Try these simple and effective fixes to keep your herbs fresh all year long!
The sweltering summer months have retreated and the rains are finally here. It is that time of the year when you hanker for some hot chaai and pakodas. You reach for mint and coriander leaves for the mandatory green chutney, and to your dismay, they have turned into a glob of green mush! The story seems familiar to many of us for whom the struggle of keeping herbs fresh is real. If you find yourself tearing at your hair to find effective solutions to preserve your precious herbs, look no further! Here are some simple tips to help you make your herbs last longer, especially during the rains.
The bundles of fresh coriander and mint herbs that we buy from local vendors are often bound too tight by strings or rubber bands. Untie them as soon as you get home. The pressure from these fasteners can often damage the delicate stalks which can trigger a rot or cause them to wilt.
Go scissor-happy on the roots
Fresh coriander leaves often come with their roots intact. These roots tend to draw moisture from the leaves making them wilt. Often, the rot starts at the root which slyly spreads upwards, reducing your once crisp coriander leaves into a dark green pulp. Hence, it is wise to trim them off so that the herbs last longer. However, you don't have to discard the roots completely. Coriander roots are little powerhouses of flavour. Grind them into a Thai curry or throw them into a marinade for an interesting flavour profile.
Snip, don't bruise
Fresh herbs, especially coriander, parsley, basil and mint, are fragile and have to be handled with a lot of TLC; manhandling, tearing and butchering them with blunt knives are a big no no! Bruising the tender stalks may cause them to wilt and rot faster. So be smart and use a pair of sharp kitchen scissors to snip off the roots and stems.
Wash only before using
Don't start washing your herbs just as yet. Storing moisture laden herbs in the refrigerator can be a sure shot recipe for disaster. In no time, these herbs may start rotting as excessive moisture can spell doom for their shelf life. Wash them only when you are about to use them.
Freezing herbs in oil may seem bizarre, but it is a brilliant way to retain the taste and colour of herbs for a long time to come. Place the freshly chopped herbs in the ice tray and pour extra virgin olive oil over them. Cover with a cling film and freeze overnight. Once frozen, store these oil cubes in an airtight container and pop them into sauces and pastas whenever required.
Create an infusion of herbs and oils and drizzle it over meats and salads. Hardy herbs like curry leaves, thyme and rosemary which contain relatively lesser amount of moisture are ideal for this process. Clean and dry the herbs completely to ensure there is no extra moisture which can make the oil go rancid. Place the herbs in a clean jar and top them with the oil. Place the jar in the sun for a few days, shaking it up once in a while. Voila! There you have it, your very own herb oil.
Butter is an excellent base for preserving fresh herbs, ensuring that their taste and colour stays intact. Mince herbs such as parsley, coriander or sage and mix them with softened butter. Freeze the mixture and store it in an airtight container. Whether you melt it over roast chicken or slather over warm bread, herbed butter is an easy and effective way to secure the lush taste of fresh herbs.
Vinegar is the way to go
Vinegar is a crucial ingredient in pickle making in India. Its acetic acid content makes it impossible for those pesky bacteria to multiply, thus helping preserve the pickle for a very long time. Mild white vinegar can be used to preserve herbs like rosemary and basil. Create flavourful salad dressings or robust sauces for roasts with these refreshing infusions.
Follow these crucial steps and inexpensive tips to ensure that your herbs stay fresh, no matter what the season is!