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Herbs of Steel!

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C. Kent
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After two weeks in the 'fridge. L to R: Thai basil, a minature of me in my youth, cilantro, parsley.

Never again cry "They've been slimed!" when you pull a bunch of what were recently fresh herbs from the crisper. Now your parsley, cilantro, and other herbs can stay fresh and crisp for three or more weeks after the day you bought them. Up till now I've been wrapping fresh herbs in damp paper towels and sealing them into a Zip-Loc.  That's worked okay but a new method has it beat by a mile – and several weeks of 'fridge life.

This clever dodge comes from the estimable J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Managing Director of the Serious Eats website. I've found Kenji's posts and the site in general to be a rich resource for recipes and thoughtful examination of methods and techniques.  Lopez-Alt conducts careful experiments to see what works best, and in the process has debunked any number of cooking myths.  So, if Kenji says it (except his advocacy of cinnamon-raisin bagels, surely jusr a bizzarre aberration) I think it. 

Flash: This just in about Serious Eats

Anyway, the short version is that he's found that keeping herbs in covered containers with a little water in the bottom can extend their fridge life by weeks.  Here's his method and the science behind it on the best way to store fresh herbs

In this week's segment Nancy mentions another interesting way to preserve fresh herbs she found in her 1953 Joy of Cooking.  When you have more fresh herbs than you can use, preserve them "...by salting them in a covered crock.  Alternate a half-inch layer of salt with a half-inch layer of fresh herbs and begin and end with just a little heavier layer of salt."  After a few weeks the salt takes on the flavor of the herbs.

"How could such sweet and wholesome hours be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?"

– Andrew Marvell

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.