Many home cooks avoid using fresh herbs, because they suffer the guilt of watching them turn to waste. Except from the ground, herbs never come packaged in the right amount for a recipe, and yet they have no substitute. When you’re cooking with fresh herbs, they’re either in or out.
In the Purple Kale test kitchen, we’ve stumbled upon a way to preserve fresh herbs, keeping them flavorful, crisp, and bright for weeks. In a previously failed attempt to make a cold-steeped herbal “tea,” we created, accidentally, an Herb Tank. In an Herb Tank, we submerge fresh herbs fully in a clear container of cold water, keeping them always in sight, clean, and ready to use. And, hard to believe, the herbs’ flavor does not leech into the water. The Herb Tank might be our most exciting little discovery this year.
The Herb Tank goes against two common pieces of advice: keep both delicate leaves and woody stems dry. In the case of damp leaves, they wilt and, as for wet woody stems, they begin to mold. However, in the past when I’ve stored delicate herbs in the typically-touted one-inch vase of water, leaves moisture-free, and stems fussily-trimmed, they turn dark and rubbery, still, are at risk of tipping over, and the whole fridge set up blocks my view of other things. Woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, which others suggest I wrap in barely wet paper towels, begin to quickly dry out. With the Herb Tank, however, the leaves of all of these herbs retain their fresh texture and taste and the woody stems remain sturdy and clean, for weeks at a time.
The only care an Herb Tank requires is to change the water if it begins to darken or get cloudy. This may happen after about two weeks. Store in refrigerator.