Herbs are best picked when nearly dry, after the morning sun has had time to mop up the dew! Nip soft herbs with clean fingers and use sharp shears or pruners to clean-cut woody herbs. For culinary herbs, a quick, clean water rinse and spin in the lettuce spinner will remove most outdoor contaminants. Many fresh cut herbs will keep for a day or two at room temperature in water, in a glass container on the counter. I often initially add an ice cube or two to the water container!
Generally, herbs “breath” better if not completely covered when they are refrigerated. Lightly wrap your herb bundle or herb pieces in a paper towel and place loosely in a bag without completely closing the herbs off from air circulation. Darkening and softening are signs of moisture and microbially-induced decay.
Remarkably, herbs have high antioxidant stability, particularly when used fresh. Adding herbs to cooking near the end of the process means you are adding valuable nutrients and phytochemicals that will retain chemical potency and activity!
Stayed tuned. Next week — some tips on specific herb drying!
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