Horror of the herbs

Fresh Herbs are probably one of my biggest items of food waste.  I’ve tried to grow my own but I’m not very green fingered and a top floor flat with no outside space, doesn’t seem to provide optimal growing conditions.

Where possible I try to substitute fresh herbs for dried but for lots of recipes dried herbs just don’t quite cut it. The shelf life of shop bought fresh herbs is extremely short and I find the packaged quantities just far too large to use up in one meal. More often than not, on my weekly clean up of the fridge, there’s normally some black coriander or some shrivelled parsley that’s headed for the bin.

I’ve got quite good at making pesto, a great use for left over basil.  There’s also a whole variety of  other condiments and dressings that can be made from various herbs. Fresh herbs can be mixed with oils to create marinades for meat or added to dairy products such as butter and cream for a bit of a twist.

Despite these ideas I still manage to incur an abundance of throw away herbs each month and so I decided to turn to the internet to research what other options are available. It transpires that there’s a whole host of ways to extend the life of herbs. You can freeze them, dry them, infuse oils with them and so on…all ideas I’d never have thought of. Hey, there’s even websites dedicated solely to care and storage of fresh herbs.

These ideas aren’t my own but there’s so many websites, including wikihow that show you how to do all of the above ideas. I think my preferred option is the freezing idea and although this takes away freshness and means that the herbs can’t be used for garnishes, I imagine that the herbs would still taste fantastic mixed into many dishes.

So after a little bit of googling I now have many herby experiments to try and can hopefully reduce my food waste even further. I’d be really interested to know if anyone’s tried or tested the freezing of herbs, or better still if any readers out there have any additional ideas of how to use up these pesky leftovers?

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14 thoughts on “Horror of the herbs

  1. The ideas you listed above are the best options. Depending on the type of herb and quantity you have on hand, I would try the freezing method.

    • Hope that works out for you, however, in our experience freezing herbs does not preserve the flavour. Or at least certainly diminishes it. We have always preferred good quality dried herb blends (not mass produced, mass dried) to the freezing option. Lime Mint frozen into cubes and put into drinks was a fun experiment though!

  2. This is a problem I always have too! Both the lack of having a green thumbs and finding packs of spoiled herbs in my fridge! Unless I’m using fresh herbs for a very special occasion I tend to skip them and replace with dried ones…

    • Please keep trying! A lot of people say that they don’t have green fingers because their only experience of growing herbs stem from poor quality supermarket plants that are not designed to last. Its a bit of a con really that makes people think that they are rubbish! There are a lot of herbs easier to grow than others! Believe and keep trying! Get your hands on some Vietnamese Coriander – so easy to grow!

  3. Hi there! Thanks for the tweet. There are a lot of herbs that are easy to grow on a windowsill.

    However, I think we need to clarify a few things. The supermarket herbs are cheap and slightly more cost effective that buying a big bag of herbs. If you keep the cheap supermarket herbs alive for more than 7- 10 days you are doing great and you must have green fingers. Because they are ‘growing’ they last longer than cut herbs. The reason that they do not last is chiefly down the manner in which they are grown. These mass produced products are grown in perfect ‘lab like’ conditions with heaters and grow lights. This process is heavily twisting nature and it does come at a price – it weakens the plant. Also your kitchen windowill is not normally ‘perfect lab conditions;. Ours certainly isn’t.

    For us at Urban Herbs (http://www.urban-herbs.co.uk/) it comes down to cost, reducing waste and reducing food miles. We sell pots of herbs which cost a couple of pounds but are naturally grown. We sell varieties that are suited to the time of year, It might sound very boring but it comes down to maths. If you manage to get 3 ‘crops’ from your pot of herbs then you are winning financially. This works out cheaper than buying cut packaged herbs.

    There are some herbs that are easier to grow than others on your ‘windowsill allotment’. You should grow herbs that you use! Our kitchen windowsill currently contains Vietnamese Coriander, Hot n Spicy Oregano and Rosemary. The Vietnamese Coriander has been there for 6 weeks and is going MAD! The Rosemary grows steadily but fills the kitchen with a great smell. I probably use too much of the Hot n Spicy Oregano – pasta cooking is my vice!

    Hope that if of interest. Herbs are my passion. I could write thousands of words about this!

  4. Thank-you so much for this Urban Herbs, this is incredible advice. I always suspected there was something not right with the supermarket herbs. You have restored my faith in herb growing and I shall try again. I think I’m going to start with the Vietnamese Coriander and Spicy Oregano. Can you pruchase your herbs online (I’m not sure how well they’d travel) or just in person at one of your farmers markets?

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