One of my favorite CSA offerings are the fragrant bunches of herbs that we receive almost every week. I love the smell of fresh mint and cilantro on my hands, and look forward to the generous portions each year. But once these delicious greens arrive to my house, I often don’t know what to do with all of them, and sadly, some wilt before I can use them fully.
Over the years (this is our third year as 6th Street CSA members), I’ve tried many different things with my herb shares. One year, my sister bought me an herb keeper for the fridge - admittedly, it was so hard to organize the stems correctly in this contraption that many a bunch perished inside it and I eventually gave it away. Most of the herbs that can be dried are hanging around my kitchen on hooks and I use them all year round. But the finicky ones - mint and cilantro, especially, which don’t seem to like to dry or freeze well for me - took some time to figure out.
Instead of bagging these herbs and putting them in the fridge, I treat them like stems of flowers and make them into bouquets. This tactic keeps my herbs fresh and makes for delicious arrangements for my kitchen or house that are easy to pinch from when needed.
Here are a few of my pointers on how to make your herb arrangements last:
Clean the stems of leaves Just like cut flowers, leaves in water break down and cause bacterial growth and mold. To keep your her bouquets fresh and your herbs delicious, simply pluck the lower leaves from the stems. This is probably the most important step of all!
Cut the stems ¼ inch each day This keeps water uptake as potent as possible, and again like cut flowers, your herbs perky and bright. I find this most helpful with keeping cilantro fresh.
Change the water each day New water makes for longer lasting herb arrangements, just like cut flowers. I find that if I trim stems and change my water daily, I don’t need any of the flower growing packets that they give you at the flower stand.
Grow whole plants by putting arrangements in clear vases This week, my mint bouquet from two weeks ago had grown long enough roots to plant in my small backyard garden. If you do want to root your herbs, clean the stems and change the water, but don’t trim daily so that the roots can grow from the bottoms.
Martha Stewart has been praising herb bouquets for years, and I find that they make great displays for dinner parties and day to day beautification. Also, if mine are displayed attractively on the kitchen counter, I’m more apt to use them here and there as opposed to when I throw them in a bag in the corner of the fridge.
No need to limit yourselves to herbs, either; I find some of the lettuce and swiss chard from the CSA so beautiful that I can’t help but mixing them with flowers and herbs for summertime arrangements, too!