Herbs

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Basil

Storage: This method is not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it is the most effective! Trim the stems and place them in a glass or jar of water, similar to cut flowers. Cover the basil loosely with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter at room temperature. This prevents the leaves from turning black. Basil will last about a week this way.

Preparation: As with all greens and herbs, basil has a longer shelf life if you wait until you’re ready to use it to wash it. Fill a large bowl or salad spinner with cold water, add basil, and swish it around to remove sand and dirt. Wait a minute to let the sediment settle to the bottom, then pull out the basil, dump the water, and repeat until basil is clean. Dry thoroughly (but delicately!) by rolling with towels.

Taste: Bright, pungent, somewhat lemony

Nutritional Benefits: Contains vitamin K for bone health, and vitamin A for eye health. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, the magnesium in basil helps to improve blood flow and stop cholesterol from oxidizing in the blood stream.


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Cilantro

Storage: Store cilantro in a jar of water in the fridge, as if they were flowers in a vase. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag

Preparation: Fill a large bowl or salad spinner with cold water, add cilantro, and swish them around to remove sand and dirt. Wait a minute to let the sediment settle to the bottom, then pull out the herbs, dump the water, and repeat until cilantro is clean. Dry thoroughly by rolling with towels.

Taste: Bright, citrussy; may taste soapy to some

Nutritional Benefits: Cilantro has a high protein content compared to other herbs and vegetables, and is a good source of fiber. It also contains vitamin k for healthy blood clotting and bone strength, and vitamin A for eye health.


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Dill

Storage: Shake the stems loosely and then place them in a plastic bag. Add a piece of paper towel to absorb any condensation that may form inside the bag. Keep in the refrigerator, where it should last between 7 to 10 days. You can also keep the stems in a jar or vase with water and cover the leaves with a plastic cover for longer lasting flavor and freshness.

Preparation: Chop as desired

Taste: Slightly sharp, tangy green

Nutritional Benefits: Dill is a good source of vitamin A (for skin and eye health), vitamin C (for immunity), and flavenoids that work as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer.


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Mint

Storage: Wrap the mint leaves gently in a dampened paper towel. Place the mint in a plastic bag, not sealing all the way so that air can circulate. Do not wrap tightly; trapped moisture will cause the herbs to mold.

Preparation: Wash by swirling in fresh water and rinsing clean, then chop the leaves either finely or coarsely, for dishes such as salads, for which you want more of a flavor impact. You typically won't want to use the stems, as they can be a bit tough.

Taste: Minty!

Nutritional Benefits: Mint is helpful for relieving digestion issues; try sipping hot or iced mint tea to sooth your stomach. Mint is also a source of manganese, copper, vitamin A, iron, and folate.


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Parsley

Storage: Wash when ready to use. Wrap in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If you prefer, treat your parsley like a bouquet of flowers. Trim the stems and place in a glass filled with water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Be sure to change the water every couple of days.

Preparation: Wash by swirling in fresh water and rinsing clean, then chop the leaves either finely or coarsely, for dishes such as salads, for which you want more of a flavor impact. The stalks have a lot of flavor, too, so can be chopped finely and added as well - or use them for making soup stock.

Taste: Slightly bitter, fresh, vibrant

Nutritional Benefits: Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins, including Vitamin C,  B 12, K and A. This means parsley keeps your immune system strong, tones your bones and heals the nervous system, too. Parsley can also be used to freshen your breath!


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Rosemary

Storage: Wrap them loosely in plastic wrap and place them in the warmest part of the refrigerator; one of the compartments in the door works perfectly. Do not wrap the herbs tightly or the trapped moisture may cause them to mold prematurely; many people like to add a crumpled paper towel to the bag as a safeguard.

Preparation: Do not rinse the herbs until just before using. Simple slide off the leaves and use as you’d like.

Taste: Rich, resinous, aromatic

Nutritional Benefits: Traditionally, rosemary has been used medicinally to improve memory, relieve muscle pain and spasm, stimulate hair growth, and support the circulatory and nervous systems. It is also believed to increase menstrual flow, act as an abortifacient (causing miscarriage), increase urine flow, and treat indigestion. Other studies suggest that rosemary can prevent thrombosis and have powerful antioxidant effects.


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Sage

Storage: Fresh sage leaves should be aromatic and should have no soft spots or dry edges. Wrap in paper towels and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use within 4 to 5 days. Fresh leaves may be covered in olive oil and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Use the flavored oil for sauteeing or in salad dressings.

Preparation: Do not rinse. Simply use the leaves as necessary!

Taste: Sage has a pine-like flavor and aroma. It's also often described as having eucalyptus and citrus notes. It can be a bit musty.

Nutritional Benefits: Consuming sage may have positive effects on memory and cognition. Sage leaves and tinctures made from the plant are also traditional remedies for inflammation of the mouth and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract, to calm intestinal spasms and to treat gastritis and diarrhea. In addition, sage is sometimes applied topically to treat eczema, acne and minor skin injuries. Sage may also have antimicrobial properties and could be useful when applied topically to fight bacterial and viral infections.


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Thyme

Storage: Wrap thyme loosely in plastic wrap and place them in the warmest part of the refrigerator; one of the compartments in the door works perfectly. Do not wrap the herbs tightly or the trapped moisture may cause them to mold prematurely; many people like to add a crumpled paper towel to the bag as a safeguard. Do not rinse the herbs until just before using.

Preparation: Wash, then either use the whole sprig or remove the leaves and discard the stalk. To strip the leaves from the stems, hold a stalk at the top and then firmly run the thumb and forefinger of your other hand along the stalk from top to bottom - the leaves should break off as you go.

Taste: Sweet, earthy

Nutritional Benefits: Blended into soups and stews thyme’s essential oils, which help increase circulation. Brewed in a tea thyme energises the whole system, and through its fortifying effect on the nervous system it is excellent for treating physical and mental exhaustion, tension, anxiety and depression. The relaxant action of thyme can help relieve wind and cramping in the stomach and bowel and can be a useful treatment for those with irritable bowel syndrome.