The cilantro on the left is beginning to look a bit tired, BUT it is a week old!

When you receive, or buy for yourself, a bouquet of roses or any other flower, the first thing you’re advised to do is snip off an inch or so of the stem ends under running water, right?  The reason is that, whatever the stems are exposed to is what they will draw up.  A big gulp of air is not especially good for them.

Transfer the same principle to parsley, cilantro, basil, dill – common popular herbs we all either grow or buy, or both.  As I’ve mentioned, no one can test the longevity of foods in the refrigerator better than I, and I finally grew weary of throwing away bag after bag after slimy, unidentifiable bag of something that used to be green and leafy.

All are watery herbs, as opposed to rosemary, thyme, and marjoram which are more woody.  It took me a while to figure out that if, when I brought home or picked them, if I first filled a Mason jar or water glass with cool water,  washed the leaves under running water, then held the stem ends under the running water and with scissors trimmed off about an inch from them and immediately plunked the “bouquet” into the jar/glass, I’d extend their useful life by a good week.

I keep jars of fresh herbs on my work table all the time now.  They’re out of direct sunlight, and since they are in plain view, I use them much more often.  I change the water daily, and I’d rather gaze upon them than roses any day.  Besides, I always seem to have at least one cat who loves to chew on rose leaves for reasons which are mysterious to me. For now (so far) she hasn’t developed a craving for cilantro.  Even better, I don’t have to worry about things going thunk in the night.

About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
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  1. Very informative post, I hate throwing away herbs. I usually do exactly what you do but put the jar in the refrigerator, is that necessary or not good for the herbs/

  2. Such great advice. I don’t think I would have ever thought to cut herbs like that but it makes perfect sense. Here’s to long lasting herb bouquets!

  3. A great tip indeed! Another I’ve been trying the past couple of weeks is to put the herbs in a dish and cover with damp kitchen paper! Seems to work for about a week too!

  4. Pat says:

    This year I’ve planted all my herbs in pots save for the mint, winter savory and lovage which are perennials and come back every year and I’ve found that I can snip what I need and not worry about saving them, but your advice for the non growing season is priceless!

    • Thank you, Pat, it’s really the non-growing season that matters. Though, too, some are so prolific (Italian parsley, mint, dill) that they produce more than I can use, so I cut them back aggressively and leave jars of them on neighbors’ front porches. Better than a club-sized zucchini, I hope!

  5. lapadia says:

    Excellent, I love herb bouquets!

  6. Emily says:

    the herbs-in-the-jar trick has saved me a million times (and dollars) since i first learned this trick from you. thank you, cyn, and beautiful pic above!

  7. I do the same thing, but put a plastic bag over them in the gass of water, forming a little greenhouse for them. I’ve had basil and mint last 2 weeks now. It’s not as visually appealing as uncovered little bouquets!

    • The greenhouse effect works well, Susan. The problem is that one of my cats loves to lick plastic. I suspect you can see where this is going – things that go bump in the night and during the daytime, too.


  9. Liz says:

    Many great tips on how to keep herbs fresh. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading this post!!!

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