How to Store Parsley, Cilantro, and Other Fresh Herbs

Have you ever had trouble keeping fresh herbs fresh? This super easy trick keeps fresh herbs useable for a couple of weeks.

Method

1 Snip off the bottom of the stems.

2 Make sure the leaves are completely dry. Better to hold off rinsing them until you're about to use them.

3 Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the jar.

4 If you are storing the herbs in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag. Cilantro loves cool temperatures and should be stored in the refrigerator. Parsley can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. According to Harold McGee, basil is ideally stored at room temperature and not in the refrigerator, because it is susceptible to damage from cold.

5 Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.

Fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, and other fresh herbs can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way.


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Comments

  1. Sinny

    Oh my god! I was just whining to a friend about this problem today! I love buying the fresh herbs, but I don’t cook enough to use them before they get wilty. Thanks so much for this tip!

  2. Pille

    Fresh herbs usually come with the small container they’re grown in here in Estonia, so usually I simply place them in a glass of water (soil and everything), and they happily last a week. But I’ll try your mum’s method next time I come across fresh cut herbs!

  3. Ruth

    The same trick works for celery – just cut off the leaves and keep the stalks in a bit of water in the fridge. The stalks stay crunchy for about 2 weeks.

  4. Steve

    I grow some of my own herbs and have found that when I have to much (and I mean way to much) freezing the herbs in an ice cube tray, with a bit of water, is a great way of storing them. This means that you can just throw a cube into your recipes and you’ve got as good as fresh herbs with now mess. Its also a great way if you find yourself in a rush when you cook.

  5. DawnsRecipes

    I do put them in water, but never tried the plastic baggie. I’ll have to give it a go next time. Mint, if placed in a glass of water at room temperature, actually sprouts new roots…so it’ll last even longer. I can’t say how long, because my cuttings are still alive after a month!

    Yep, mint will do that, as will rosemary. I don’t use the plastic bag if I’m storing them in water out of the refrigerator. ~Elise

  6. Elise

    How fantastic! I was just looking for information about keeping fresh herbs fresh for longer. Might you someday post tips for drying herbs?

    I’ve been keeping up with your site for several months but haven’t commented until now. I want to say that I think this is fantastic. I read a number of food and cooking blogs, but this is by far the best.

  7. jonathan

    I always did the water-in-a-jar-thing, but never snipped off some of the root end (duh – we do it with flowers to extend their life, why not herbs?), or the plastic bag. Somehow I always thought a bag would suffocate the herbs.

    To think of all those lovely fresh herbs I sent to early graves. Shame on me.

  8. Rae

    This is my favorite method too, and it works really well. My cilantro and parsley always last at least two weeks in the fridge, and none of it goes to waste! I didn’t know about not refrigerating basil – I’ll try that next time.

    That’s what Harold McGee says about basil and it makes sense. The basil I grow really doesn’t like it when it gets cold outside. That said, it probably depends on how cold you keep your refrigerator. ~Elise

  9. jennsquared

    Wow! That’s a great trick! I always killed the herb sooner than later. I do noticed that my basil will root in water which is pretty cool. When it does root, I would just try to plant them, until my black thumb kills them… ::sigh:: I’ll have to try your tips! Thanks!

  10. Brandon

    As far as I know, by placing the bag over the parsley you’re creating a modified atmosphere surrounding your herbs. As the herbs respire they consume oxygen and create CO2. The high CO2 and low O2 prevent (to some extent) the ability of the herb to make the senescence hormone (ethylene). This in turn should slow deterioration of the product as long as it has a water source and the O2 doesn’t get so low that it goes anaerobic.

    At least that’s how I see it…

    Hi Brandon, you and Harold McGee (p. 396 in On Food and Cooking, 2nd ed.). He says the same thing. This explains why the plastic bag is important for storing in the fridge, but not necessarily storing out on the counter. In a refrigerator, you have a closed environment, and the ethylene would be be contained and therefore affect the herbs, and everything else exposed in your fridge. On a counter, the ethylene would just get dispersed in the air, like the ethylene coming out of bananas. I’m not convinced this is the whole story though. If it were, then snipping off bits of the herbs would also generate ethylene and hasten the deterioration, even within the plastic bag, but this doesn’t happen. ~Elise

  11. Clay

    Great idea. I’ve been storing herbs in a glass of water for several months, which has significantly extended their lives in our refrigerator. I’ll give it a try with the plastic bags!

  12. katy

    Oh nice! I will do this next time. I always just use what I need and then freeze the rest, which works fine for flavor, but you definitely lose the herbs’ texture.

  13. Richard

    Question, when storing the parsley and basil at room temperature, should I avoid putting them on the windowsill and exposing them to sunlight?

    We often store parsley, basil, and rosemary in water on the window sill where it gets direct morning light and indirect light the rest of the day. The herbs last well that way and often even send out roots into the water. ~Elise

  14. Mike

    I do the same and I always wondered if I was doing bad by putting the bags on top–I did it more to just not make my fridge smell like cilantro, lol! I’m also surprised about keeping them at room temperature, but it certainly makes sense. I’ll have to try that out…

  15. MM

    This is a nice home-made solution, but check out the herb saver made by Prepara (www.prepara.com/herb_savor.php). It’s compact and neat, and serves the purpose well. I love it!

  16. Lesley

    Awesome! I love growing my own herbs and cooking with them. This is a great tip as I usually cut off too much and then it goes to waste, no more waste!!!

  17. ariel

    Oh my god! Thank you!!! I hate buying herbs I know I won’t use within a couple days (basically everything other than basil, I always use that quickly) because they always die. Thanks again!

  18. Ernesto

    I usually wrap them in paper towels which I find makes a huge difference. I’ve tried this method once or twice and didn’t notice a great difference between the two.

  19. Jeanette

    Here is another way to store cilantro, I was given this tip when taking Thai cooking classes.

    Put your cilantro in a plastic food storage container of the right size. Now put in one raw egg, still in its shell of course. Cover and refrigerate.

    The cilantro will last around 2 weeks this way. The egg itself will turn greenish, just throw out after the 2 week period. The egg is used to absorb the extra moisture which is what causes the cilantro to turn mushy.

    Also, any fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil can be lightly rinsed, shaken dry as much as possible, chopped and frozen. Simply add the frozen product a minute or two before the recipe is done. This method is for when you actually need that ingredient as part of the recipe, not for when it is used for a garnish.

  20. sudesna

    This is a good method- I’ll have to try it now that it is almost spring here (now we’ll have herbs in flower vases !). What I do is chop it up- without washing- cutting off some of the end stems and store it in the refrigerator in a plastic box (large used yogurt containers work wonderful). It stays fresh for upto 2 weeks. Wash it only when you are about to use it. I use only cilantro so this works well for me. The trick I belive is to have sufficient space in your fridge so cold air circulates all around the container.

  21. maia

    I do the same thing, sans the plastic bag. I don’t think it’s necessary; it just adds another bit of plastic to the landfill! Mine do just fine for weeks with the ends snipped off and stuck in a jar of water.

    Actually, the plastic bag does make a big difference if you are storing the herbs in the refrigerator, especially with a delicate herb like cilantro. ~Elise

  22. Andy

    Nice tips… I will definitely use them in the future.

    I suspect the cutting of the stem is used to expose a more absorbent area (and larger cross section, if you cut diagonally) to allow the plant to drink and not dry out.

    I also suspect the bag slightly “strangles” the plant so that its metabolism slows down and it doesn’t run out of nutrients and die so quickly.

    I’m no expert… maybe somebody else can confirm.

  23. Evelyn

    Does anyone know a way to preserve scallions in the same way so that they don’t wilt or turning into mush? Would water work for these too?

  24. Kim

    I try to keep my herbs fresh by not cutting them from the plant until I need them. =) Not an option for all herbs or for all people, I know…..

  25. Becki

    I use a similar method with my cilantro. Here in Boston the cilantro is already a few days old when bought from the store, and this really helps. I actually put it in a 8-or-9 inch-tall, narrow Tupperware container instead, though. Then it can get bumped around in the fridge and I don’t have to worry about it!

  26. Selina

    The plastic bag really does work. To remedy the plastic bag going to waste, you can always recycle it by returning it to your grocery store. Or, you can reuse the plastic bag to get more produce.

  27. somia

    I have been doing something similar to this method for years. I cut off the rooty ends of cilantro (important step) and put the cilantro bunch in a brown paper lunch bag. I place the lunch bag in a tightly fitted tupperware container in the refrigerator where it remains fresh for 2 weeks. I have not tried this with parsley but I suspect it would work just as well. It works like a charm on cilantro!

  28. palegreenhorse

    Actually I’m fairly certain the reason you need a plastic bag in the fridge has to do with the moisture content of the air. the reason we have frost free freezers is because the air has a very low humidity (thus the frost in the freezer sublimes) and I am thinking the fridge air also has a low humidity. So to keep the moisture in the plant cells and keep it fresh you need to keep the moisture from traveling rapidly out of the plant to the dry air. So if you live in a very dry place, such as nevada, you should also use the bag outside the fridge. The plastic bag creates a little miniature humidifier for your herbs. And for you trash conscious just save the bag for next time you buy fresh herbs then you don’t have to worry about the landfill =).

    Ah, palegreenhorse, thank you for that explanation. Totally makes sense. ~Elise

  29. claire cramer

    The method I have used for years takes the plastic bag method one step further for the sake of neatness in a busy fridge. I line a ceramic pitcher with a plastic bag, open end up. Then I fill the baggie within the pitcher halfway with water, set in the bouquet of parsley, and tie the bag closed loosely above the herb leaves. This keeps a big bunch a parsley neatly enclosed and out of the way, and it’s easy to grab by the handle.

    I have not had luck with any method for cilantro.

    I’ve had the best luck with basil by NOT cutting it or washing it or refrigerating it. Good fresh farmer’s market basil stays fresh and fragrant in a jar of water on a counter for up to 2 weeks and sometimes even starts to grow roots during that time. I do refresh the water often.

  30. ursula ayrout

    I make tabouleh all the time. The best way to keep parsely fresh for weeks is to chop up the parsely, line a tupperware with paper towel, add the chopped parsely and seal it with a lid. Parsley lasts for 2 weeks without going yellow this way.

  31. Barbara Irving

    I store asparagus this way. No need to dirty a clean glass. Place the plastic bag inside the glass, add water, then trimmed asparagus spears, tie the bag over the asparagus like a green house. Keeps a long time like this.

  32. Isa

    Did you know that if you keep basil in water it will start to root. So you could start your own herb garden with basil.

  33. Walkiria

    A few months ago I went to an Italian cooking class and the teacher taught me another way of storing parsley:
    You cut out all the stems and leave only the leaves, clean them and put inside a plastic bag. Trash the stems. Take all the air out of the bag without smashing the leaves and put inside the freezer.
    This totally works, I’ve tried it since and it lasts for 4 weeks. Maybe longer, I haven’t tested since I end up using all of it by that time. The leaves don’t burn up and they defrost in seconds. This works sooooo well with cilantro (I use alot of it).

  34. andrew

    Good idea, however I am a trucker and love to make a cowboy omelet in the mirovave, and add cilantro , but driving in a truck and a fridge that shakes etc, a jar of water may not work. So how else can you keep herbs longer?

  35. Lynn

    Someone mentioned storing celery….I learned this from an old Martha Stewart show years ago….take a large sheet of aluminum foil and place the celery in the foil. Wrap the foil around the celery and store in the refrigerator. Keeps many weeks!

  36. Irene

    This is what I do:
    put the herbs in a big plastic bag (the one that
    you purchased from the supermarket is fine). Make sure there is lots of air in it before making a sealed ‘greenhouse’ effect.No water necessary. Keeps for AGES!!! Except you do need a fair bit of room in the ‘fridge.

  37. amani khalil

    I have another way to keep these delicate vegetables. Put them in a closed plastic fridge box, adding to them one or 2 whole lemons or limes. This way can also be used for spring onions, thyme, basil and rosemary. The maximum which happens is that the leaves start to turn yellow, but the stalks stay intact, by the end of 10 days.

  38. Whitney

    Just like Pille, my herbs are still planted in little plastic pots. I find the basil lasts a while but the cilantro less so. I’ll have to try her method of submerging the whole little pot in a glass of water. As it is I never know how much to water them (I don’t want to drown them) but they do get really dry if I don’t water them often. Anyone have any insights as to whether I would be better off using the submerged pot method or actually cutting all of them and using Elise’s method? My intuition would be that they are better off in their pots but if they have been in them a while maybe there are no new nutrients left?

    If you reach that use-it-or-lose-it stage a good idea is to use the Food Blog Search to look for recipes that use whatever herb you are in need of using. I’ve found some great new cilantro recipes that way. Thanks!

  39. susan g

    As for dill: I take the whole fresh bunch, unwashed, put it in any plastic bag, and keep it in the freezer. Even though I keep them a long time the green color and flavor last — just cut off what you need straight out of the freezer, then return the rest. Too simple!
    And as for plastic bags: don’t buy them, don’t even take what the supermarket gives you. Life is already full of plastic bags that can be reused (just avoid print in contact with food).

  40. Gary Johnson

    I have been experimenting with storing cilantro in the refrigerator. In Boston I can find Cilantro with the roots still attached. I keep the roots on.
    Thanks for your work.
    I want to thank the poster about with the idea of using a bag already in a (ceramic)jar. I think that might be an easier way to close things up.

  41. MS

    Thats sounds a great method. My mum has tought me a similar trick as well. (Don’t wash it before, only wash it when you need it). Here’s the trick, you take the parsley or corriander and put it in a plastic bag, and squeeze out all of the air out of it. As simple as that. you can leave it in the fridge, and it will last atleast two weeks for good.

  42. Linda

    Hi Elise,

    I once tried putting herbs in water in the fridge but didnt know about the plastic bag.
    I will have to try your method.

    Cuurently I snip the ends of my unwashed cilantro then wrap the ends in a paper towel then put it in a gallon ziplock bag and store in my veggie bin in my fridge. It works ok.
    Besides using it for salsa, I use a bit of unchopped cilantro tossed in my salad greens.

    Linda in Washington State

  43. Smyrna

    This is a great idea, I would love to try it. The method I usually use is, once I get the herbs, I wash them and let them dry in room temperature, then roll them up either with a cloth or a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. They will last around a week or so. Some herbs come with their roots on them, I rinse them off well without cutting the roots and use the same method, they usually last longer.

  44. Donald

    Great tips. These have just been applied. I just came from the market. Up until now I have been wrapping my parsley and cilantro in paper towels. They last longer than in ususal that way but still not long enough.

    Thanks!

  45. angie

    I place my herbs on a paper towel till there is not much moisture then a place a paper towel on the bottom of a plastic container and closing tight then I place it in the fridge. It lasts me for about 2 weeks.

  46. Pam

    I preserve parsley to be used for cooking by following a technique learned in a class. Do not wash the parsley. Remove the leaves and chop them in a food processor. When the texture you want, run water over the parsley in a fine holed sieve. On paper towels, blot the chopped parsley well. Put parsley into freezer containers and freeze. This works very well.

    I keep celery in a large old Tupperware celery container with lid in the refrigerator. I trim a little off the bottom of the bunch of celery and a little from any dried out tops trimming just enough so the celery fits the container. I then rinse it very well under cold water, shake off excess water and put it in the container covering it tightly. I don’t use tons of celery so it lasts a very long time. When I remove a stalk or 2 and it seems like it is starting to wilt, I just run it under cold water again, shake off the excess water and do the same thing. The next time you use it you will notice it has regained its crispy texture.

  47. Jenn

    I was wondering if anyone knew how to keep lettuce lasting longer I can never keep lettuce to last longer than a few days.

    I suggest keeping the lettuce in its plastic bag. Also keep it in the crisper (one of the drawers in your refrigerator) drawer. ~Elise

  48. finewine

    Fresh ginger can be frozen and grated right out of freezer, not even peeled. I make lots of Indian and asian food & it’s the best way unless you need slices.

    Yes, but it does tend to get mushy that way. ~Elise

  49. Allison

    Every time that I go to my farmer’s market, I am seduced a few more bunches of herbs than I really need in a week. I tried this trick, and was able to get several extra days out of some delicate lemon basil, and the parsley is still going strong. Thanks for the great tip!

  50. mary

    I just googled “making cilantro last longer,” and was pleasantly surprised to see your site pop up.
    Your Mom is a wise woman…I’m going to find a plasic bag and a mason jar now.

  51. wayne1709

    Yes Hydroponics is fun and practical, I once experimented with a single long stem rose, a tall ice tea glass, water, and a JOBES plant food spike,(flowering plant type). I Changed the water once a week and placed 1/8 to 1/4 of the food spike in the water, trim the stem, keep most of the leaves and the flower will last months. Great fun with small kids.

  52. Albert Manganelli

    The best way to preserve parsley is to chop it up and leave in the refrigerator covered. I can believe how long it actally lasts. Perhaps two week and more.

  53. AngelGlow

    I stumbled upon your very informative site while searching for dill storage. Must share with you that I started storing parsley and cilantro in glass jars with water,covered with loose plastic bags, just from my own reasoning and they last for about 2 weeks. I had no idea of the science involved. I figured that water was necessary and the loose bags protected the leaves,somewhat,from the cold.I had lost way too many $$ with the all too soon rotting of my herbs. Now I know how to store basil. I was losing in that area,also.Thanks for your site and the education therein.

  54. shirlee evans

    Does anyone have a recipe for parsley soup or parsley salad with parsley as the MAIN attraction, not the garnish or flavoring?

  55. Mandy

    Elise,
    I am starting to believe that your mom is a genius. I was very recently writing a wish list for Santa and added the prepara/herb saver pod. Then, I read this post. Looks like Santa has less work to do, which is always a good thing. :):)

  56. Jeanne

    I was going to purchase an herb keeper but found a do-it-yourself method using a French press. It works exactly like the plastic ones found online: pour an inch of water in the bottom, place the herbs in, lower the basket and put on the lid. It’s roomier than the plastic ones, and I don’t have to remove all the herbs to snip some – just lift the basket. If you have a French press in the back of your pantry it’s a good way to put it to use. Works with asparagus as well.

  57. Louise

    I have been keeping basil alive in a glass with water just covering the roots of the basil plant which is hothouse grown at this point; it has lasted as long as a month – I’ll now do the same with the parsley and dill I bought Saturday – I seem to recall that a bunch of basil I bought in the Farmers Market last summer sprouted roots after a few days and lasted about two months – I sometimes just keep it on the windowsill for the fragrance.

    Thanks heaps for the input.

  58. Warren

    The perforated plastic bags that fresh bread is wrapped in works even better than plain plastic and can be reused indefinitely. Also great for storing fresh vegetables in the fridge for a few days. I keep finding new uses.

  59. LadyJayPee

    I just realized I neglected to thank you for this great tip. I’ve been doing it for awhile now, especially with my cilantro, and it really does work! It was good to reread it today to remind me to do it with more herbs. Thank you! :)

  60. Anne Louise Klein

    I put them in a glass jar and cover the tops wih a damp paper towel. Then I put them in the fridge. Changing the water every couple of days. Does the trick!

    I can’t keep herbs on the counter because we have a cat and he will eat them. I don’t have a sunny window either to grow them.

  61. Meg

    Thanks so much, Elise! These were the exact 2 herbs I was wondering about. I will do this right now, as I just brought these home from the Farmers Market. I’ve been a follower of you on Twitter for a long time, and love Simply Recipes. Keep up the wonderful work. =)

  62. bouff

    You were the first hit on my Google search. Now you’re in my favorites. A big help with the cilantro storage for Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks very much!

  63. Ann

    I have fresh herbs growing on my front porch, my raised beds and my vegetable garden. I make a lot of pesto and I freeze in ice cubes with olive oil what I dont use. One use is in the winter I cook pasta and add some of these frozen herbs and add some garlic and wow you get a good pasta meal with all the freshness from the garden.

  64. Anna

    I just put the parsley I bought in the refrigerator in a glass with a little water. The next day it seemed to be wilted/limpy. Does anyone know the reason? I did not know about the bag trick; I will have to try that next time. However, I noticed in the comments that people said they did what I did and their parsley was fine.

    The air in the refrigerator is very dry. Putting a plastic bag over the parsley will help keep it from getting dried out/wilted/limpy. ~Elise

  65. niki

    Good idea, however, if you omit the water and store the herbs in the refrigerator (unwashed) in a tightly closed, sterilized and dry mason jar, they will keep for up to three (3) months. Just snip, rinse and use. Honestly, I’ve tried this tip from my Russian friend and it has worked. Imagine, Cilantro for three months instead of only a few days!

    In my opinion, this is the only way to store herbs.

  66. Masha

    I did this with my fresh-from-the-farmers-market basil today. I set it on the counter at room temperature without a bag covering it (since your post seemed to suggest that the bag is only necessary for the fridge). I came home two hours later and it had all wilted.

    Sounds like you do not have much humidity in the air where you are. If you live in a dry climate, or at altitude where it is dry, I would put a plastic bag over it to help keep the herbs from drying out. ~Elise