What's that smell? Fresh oregano and basil slowly simmering in a mouthwatering bolognese sauce. Mmmmmm! That could be your kitchen. Find out how to store fresh herbs, so they last longer and taste fresher. Party thyme!

woman holding fresh herbs, from Shelf Cooking

Fresh herbs from the garden can make just about any dish better! They're SO dang good. And, growing your own herbs can save some serious cash!

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Ready to take up a new gardening hobby or just looking for ways to make those fresh farmer's market herbs last a little longer? We're about to school you on all things herbs and spices—storage tips, freezer tips, recipes, you name it! Ready to do this?


Let's start with a quick science lesson! Trust us, it's important to know these fun herb facts. The more you learn, the better prepared you'll be to store them properly. So, in less than 60 seconds, we'll get you up to speed on the differences between the two types of herbs:

  • Soft-Stemmed Herbs – Think basil, parsley, dill, or cilantro. These herbs should be treated like flowers. They thrive in water and are best stored in a small jar or vase.
  • Hard-Stemmed Herbs – Hard-stemmed herbs should be rolled up in a damp towel in a ziplock bag in the fridge. Some examples include thyme, oregano, rosemary, and marjoram.

Pro Tip: Don't throw away those soft stems! While many recipes will tell you to trim off the stem, there's plenty of flavor in there. Toss them in your soup or pasta to pack an extra punch.


fresh herbs on a cutting board, from Shelf Cooking

We just LOVE throwing away a big bag of herbs that's gone bad… Said no one ever! Whether you grew those herbs in your garden or bought them, don't let them go to waste. We've got a few tricks up our sleeve. Use these simple hacks to lengthen the shelf life of your spices:


  • Dry Your Herbs in the Oven – One of the best ways to make your herbs last forever is to dry them. How do you do that? Wash those stems first! Arrange the herbs on a cookie sheet and bake at 180°F for around four hours. Keep the oven door cracked to prevent too much moisture from getting in, and stir every 30 minutes or so.
  • Dry Them in the Microwave – No time to wait? You can achieve the same results in the microwave. Just keep a close eye on those herbs! We don't want to start a fire. Place about 5 branches in between two paper towels and microwave for two minutes. Check and repeat as needed.


  • Freeze Herbs – Wash, dry, chop, and toss into a freezer bag. Let all the air out, and you're good to go.
  • Ice Cubes – We love this trick! Chop up your herbs and divide them up between ice cube trays. Fill with water, freeze, then transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe bag or container. Ready to cook? Drop the whole ice cube right in the recipe. No need to thaw, just make sure you account for the extra liquid.


olive oil and herb dip with bread, from Shelf Cooking
  • Make a Paste – Pesto, anyone? Crush up those herbs and toss them in a food processor. For every cup of herbs, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, then blend. Once you've got your paste, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze into ice cubes for up to one year. This pesto is begging for pasta night!
  • Blend in a Smoothie – Okay, technically, this isn't a storage tip (but it is an excellent way to put those fresh herbs to use). Throw some basil in your strawberry smoothie or some mint and lime in with coconut. YUM! Try adding some herbs to your homemade popsicles, too.

When stored properly, fresh herbs will last about two weeks in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer. Not bad, eh?


Alright, on to the next lesson! We've taught you how to store fresh herbs, now let's bring those droopy, wilted herbs back to life. Have you ever pulled some basil out of the fridge only to find it's no so basil-y anymore? Ugh. The worst.

Good news! You can totally reinvigorate your herbs. Here's a foolproof method!

  1. Prepare an Ice Bath – Not for your feet, silly, for those herbs! Grab a big bowl and fill it with ice water.
  2. Cut the Stems – Got that herb bath ready to go? Grab your kitchen shears and cut off the stems. Remove any bruised or damaged leaves from your herbs.
  3. Soak – Leave your herbs to soak for about 30 minutes. If they start perking up before then, great! Go ahead and take them out of the water.
  4. Drain – Once they're done soaking, drop them in a colander to drain any excess moisture.

That's it! Now your herbs are good as new and begging to be used. Luckily we've got some ideas. On to the recipes portion of this little lesson!


a bowl of homemade Chimichurri, from Shelf Cooking

Now that you know all there is to know about how to store fresh herbs, you may find yourself with an abundance of them. No problemo! Just try one of these awesome recipes! They're all super easy to make and full of flavor:

  • Blueberry Basil Ice Cream – If you have some fresh blueberries and basil to use up, you're in luck! Add about one cup of blueberries and a handful of basil to some vanilla ice cream and blend to combine. You won't be disappointed!
  • Cucumber-Mint Water – Having trouble getting in those 64 ounces of water daily? No more plain, boring water for you. Slice up a few cucumbers and toss them in a pitcher with a handful of fresh mint. Fill with water, refrigerate, and enjoy.
  • Herb Butter – What could be better than butter? Herb butter! Just bring your butter to room temp and soften it up, then mix in your herbs of choice. Return to the fridge until you're ready to use it.
  • Rosemary Oil Dipping Sauce – You know that dipping sauce they serve at the Italian restaurants? SO good. Make your own! Just add some fresh herbs to two tablespoons of olive oil. Make some rustic bread for dipping and enjoy!
  • Skirt Steak – Use your fresh cilantro to whip up some chimichurri. It's so easy! Try the chimichurri recipe from Simple Recipes.
  • Taco Seasoning – Stop buying those packets from the store! It's easy peasy to make your own taco seasoning using herbs and spices you already have.


We had fun dropping knowledge on herbs, and we hope what you've learned keeps you in delicious flavors for years to come! But enough about us. What's your favorite fresh herb to use in recipes? Leave us a comment below!

Image with text that reads "how to store fresh herbs" from Shelf Cooking

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Herb your enthusiasm, girl!