There are many different ways to look after fresh herbs, depending on variety and whether they are pre-cut or living. You will find care notes on the back of packaging but here are some useful hints to make sure you get the most out of them.
Freezing herbs - any left over herbs can be frozen. Wash and gently shake dry. Place in a labelled bag and place in the drawer in the freezer. Best used within a month. To use, crush the bag and sprinkle into curries and stews. This will add flavour but will not be as good as using fresh herbs! Lemon grass stalks can be stored in the freezer for up to a month, and chopped whilst still frozen. Chopped mint can be frozen in ice cubes for cold summer drinks.
Drying herbs - robust herbs such as oregano, thyme, sage, mint & rosemary respond well to drying, but they will lose some of their depth of flavour.
Using fresh herbs
Rinse herbs with cold water, and gently pat dry with kitchen paper.
Carrot family – Coriander, Curly Parsley, Flat leaf Parsley, Dill. For pot herbs, the new leaves are produced at the base, so harvest just above this point to allow the new growth to grow on. Use both the leaves and stalks.
Mint family – Basil, Greek Basil, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Lemon Thyme. For pot herbs, pinch off sprigs above a side shoot. Use the sprigs whole or strip the leaves off the stem and chop. With Basil, pinch leaves off the stem and tear, rather than chopping with a metal knife, as this will stop the cut edge turning black. With small leaved Greek basil, pick off small sprigs rather than individual leaves.
Onion family - Chive. Use scissors to snip off leaves and prepare, rather than cutting with a knife.
Daisy family – Tarragon. Use the sprigs whole or strip the leaves off the stem and chop.
Grass family – Lemon grass. To use stalks whole, bash with the side of a knife to release the flavour. Alternatively, remove a few of the tough outer leaf sheaths and finely slice.