We have all been down this road. You bought your fresh herbs or vegetables on the weekend, by Tuesday, they have lost their potency and by Friday they are a bag of runny, smelly mush in your fridge. So how could anyone reduce the amount of money you throw away? Some simple practices will go a long way to saving both time, money, and the environment.
We are primarily focused on herbs production at the moment, with Kale in the mix, thus this blog will concentrate on how to keep your herbs fresh, longer, once harvested. However the same methods could be applied to veggies given the circumstances.
A simple herb saving advice
Do not buy more than you need! Sounds simple, but buying excess amount of herbs or food needed will result in wasted produce, as no matter what preserving method you use, some will be thrown away. When Island Growers packages the produce, we estimate the use for a family or individuals of 2-4, thus ensuring you receive an optimum amount at a very affordable price (helping you fight the "yuh eye too big" syndrome). We have kept our retail prices of herbs at the same price for the last two years; high quality, safe to eat, organic product does not and should not mean a higher price, which seems to be the norm for other producers. #shade
Bacteria and fungi love your harvested herbs. Not good news for you. It is highly recommended that any utensil or storage container used to harvest or store the herbs should be sanitised or cleaned before use. Bacteria/Fungi can bring an early demise to your herbs. Hence it is recommended to wash your herbs if you bought it a supermarket or farmer's market and then use a salad spinner to dry the herbs (or pat dry with paper towels. You can then reuse this towel, see below). At Island Growers, all our harvesting, storage and equipment used in the transport of the herbs are sanitised. Before we place the herbs in the supermarkets, we give our display bins a good wipe down with our preferred, safe to use sanitising cleaner.
Identify the type of herbs
Herbs can be classified as two types: woody (or hard) and soft herbs. Examples of woody herbs are thyme and rosemary and soft herbs are mint or parsley.
Once you have identified the type of herb, the methods to keeping it fresh will differ.
For woody herbs, dampen a paper towel (of good quality), place the herbs length ways (so that the majority of it is on the paper towel), and then fold the paper towel. Place in a reusable plastic bag or zip lock bag. we would recommend to punch a few holes in the bag (more on this later). This method should keep your woody herbs fresh for at least 2 weeks if not more.
For soft herbs, you could place the herbs in a jar of water and place in your refrigerator. Some chefs recommend placing a bag over the herbs. Also, basil can be kept on the counter top using this method, but uncovered. If this is not an option, loosely cover the stem ends only of the herbs with a dampen paper towel and store in a reusable plastic bag or zip lock bag, again punching a few holes in the bag. This should keep your herbs fresh for at least 2 weeks or more.
You could get a longer use of your herbs if you freeze it, but then it does not really qualify as fresh. That fact aside, it is still a good way to preserve herbs longer. A good tip is to blend the herbs in a food processor and then freeze portions in ice-trays (you can add oil for an even better way of use and preserving). This way you can pop out how much you need and use accordingly. You can also bulk freeze. This method is ideal for those who make and use Trinbago-famous green seasoning.
Let it breathe!
About those punched holes mentioned above. We have experienced better results when herbs are stored in a container where it's allowed to breathe a little (not too much). With the moisture from the dampen paper towel, the herbs tend to retain it's structure and potency a little while longer. We know it works as our customers have happily told us. If you have purchased our products at the supermarkets, now you know why there are those small little holes in the packaging.
Keep that Ethylene away!
Your refrigerator or kitchen is a chemical warfare zone. A couple of your veggies emit ethylene gas which is a serious issue for herbs sensitive to ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is produced from culprits such as apples, zaboca (aka avocado) and banana. Ethylene is a natural gas produced by fruits which helps it ripen and become more edible. Too much ethylene build up in a closed environment will cause some produce such as herbs to wilt or spoil as we say in Trinbago. Thus controlling the level of ethylene gas is important for maintaining herbs fresher for longer periods. Simply placing the herbs in a separate crisper or container away from ethylene producing fruits will help.
Use the herbs
You did not buy your herbs for decor (although that is a thing now we have heard). You saw a recipe, had a craving or just wanted to cook a good meal. Came home, but decided to go on Facebook, play Fortnite or the beach lime was too good to pass up. Whatever it is, yuh didn't cook so the herbs get thrown aside and forgotten. You have a plan, stick to it. Use the herbs. This is not a method to preserve the herbs, but rather to prevent the herbs from a wilt of shame demise.
Buy Island Growers Produce
Yes. There you have it, the Plug. We make no apologies :)
At Island Growers, we have worked over the years to provide you with healthy, safe to eat herbs and vegetables that are free of harmful chemicals/pesticides or enhancers. Keeping to this ideal, our produce stays fresh longer and our growing method reduces any negative environmental impact. What''s a better testament to our craft when the birds and the bees decide to hang out in our farm!
So there you have it, keeping herbs fresh has many factors involved, but it's very doable to maintain the freshness of your herbs for a lot longer than normal. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, let us or our readers know.