Fresh herbs can transform dishes, liven up leftovers and infuse salads with aromatic flavours ranging from delicate to pungent.
They can also deteriorate quickly if not stored correctly, which means half-empty bags of leaves are often binned.
We’ve teamed up with leading salad and herb supplier Vitacress for these tips on best-practice herb storage, with some fab tips for using up the bits you might otherwise throw away.
Sweet, peppery and slightly spicy, basil is a classic for lifting pizza and pasta sauces.
Part of the mint family, it also works beautifully in sweet dishes, pairing well with strawberries and delicious scattered over vanilla ice cream.
As its essential oils are on the surface of the leaf, basil is always best added towards the end of cooking to prevent loss of flavour.
Basil is best kept out of the refrigerator as it is highly susceptible to chill (below 10°C) and the leaves may start to blacken. Store basil in a bag and keep in a cool dark place.
Potted basil will thrive in a bright, draught-free place.
Part of the onion family, chives add delicate piquancy when chopped into potato salad, omelettes, bread dough and scones. Anything with eggs or cheese can be livened with a few snips of these leaves.
Chives can lose their flavour during cooking and may become bitter, so add them towards the end.
Store chives in a bag, in the salad drawer of your refrigerator. Pots should be kept away from cold draughts and hot radiators.
The Marmite of herbs, people tend to love coriander - or hate it. The distinctive citrusy flavour is key in Asian and Latin American cuisines. Coriander marries well with any dish featuring spices, garlic, chilli and ginger and brings guacamole to life.
Don’t throw away the stems. These have more flavour than the leaves and are perfect for flavouring soups and stocks or blitzing into dips.
The delicate leaves should be added towards the end of cooking - too much heat will destroy their flavour.
Store coriander in a bag in the salad drawer of your fridge. Pots should be kept on the windowsill away from extremes of temperature.
These feathery leaves add subtle aniseed flavours to fish dishes, salads, potatoes and eggs.
Make a simple sauce for smoked salmon by mixing Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, chopped dill, olive oil, caster sugar and seasoning.
Store your dill in a bag, in the salad drawer of your refrigerator. Pots should be kept in a bright place away from cold draughts.
The intense citrus and fresh green flavours of lemongrass complement seafood and Thai curries.
Tough and woody, lemongrass is best used to infuse dishes. Bash the stalks first to release the oils.
Make a simple syrup by adding stems when simmering equal parts caster sugar and water. This can be kept for up to a month in the fridge to use as a cordial, in cocktails or drizzled on fruit salad.
For maximum freshness, keep in the salad drawer of your fridge. Don’t waste any leftover lemongrass - it will keep in the fridge for a fortnight and can also be frozen.
The shiny, dark green leaves of the wild lime tree are used to infuse flavour in Thai and Southeast Asian dishes, similar to the way we use bay leaves.
Add whole leaves to Thai green curry, removing before serving. Use as a garnish for a G&T, ‘cracking’ the leaf to release the flavour. Or infuse in custard for a citrus twist.
Store lime leaves in a bag and keep in the salad drawer of your fridge. Leftover leaves can be frozen, although they may not have the depth of flavour or pungency of fresh leaves.
This cool customer is a classic in sweet and savoury dishes.
Use sprigs of fresh mint to decorate a carrot cake, add to tomato salsa or steep a sprig in hot water for a refreshing mint tea.
As the essential oils are on the surface of the leaf be careful not to over-handle as this will reduce the depth of flavour.
Store your mint in a bag in the salad drawer of your refrigerator, with pots best kept on bright, chill-free windowsills.
The Mediterranean in herb form, oregano adds warm, earthy aromas to tomato-based dishes, vegetables, pizza and meat.
Pick whole sprigs or strip off the leaves and chop as required. Try combining with lemon juice and zest, olive oil and seasoning to rub over chicken before roasting.
Store your oregano in a bag in the salad drawer of your fridge and pots on draught-free windowsills.
With its fresh, clean flavours, parsley will lift and enhance most dishes.
Best friends with garlic, mushrooms, eggs, fish and grains, you can use stalks and leaves in cooking. The stalks are especially good for flavouring soups, stocks and sauces.
Store your parsley in a bag in the salad drawer of your fridge, with pots kept on bright, sunny windowsills.
Woody, warming rosemary is delicious with roasted meats, casseroles, stews and vegetables.
Use whole sprigs or strip off leaves and chop as required. Add rosemary to tomatoes before roasting them – ideal for sauces and passata, for a deep, sunny flavour.
Tougher stalks can be used as skewers to grill or BBQ.
Store picked or shop-bought rosemary in a bag in the salad drawer of your fridge. Place your pot on a saucer and keep in a bright place like the windowsill or on the kitchen worktop, away from extremes of temperature.
For more information on how to store your fresh herbs and for inspirational ideas on how to use them, see Vitacress’ dedicated herbs website Herbilicious.
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