In the Spoon series Spoon Feed, we give tips and tricks on entertaining & hosting and seasonal & trending topics all through the lens of food. 

When it comes to cooking, are you looking to spruce up some old favorite dishes, or trying your hand at something new? Well, fresh herbs are some of the most powerful items to keep in your kitchen’s metaphorical back pocket, but how do you make the most out of your thyme (sorry, not sorry) when dealing with herbs?

What to look for in grocery-store herbs

I’ve recently started cultivating my own little windowsill garden, but the grocery store is still my go-to for fresh produce. If cultivated properly, the majority of herbs are grown year-round, but most are at their peak in the late summer. Here are some classics to add to your list on your next shopping trip (or learn how to grow on your own):






Photo by Eduardo Soares from Unsplash

Choose your herbs based on their coloring — the stem or leaves shouldn’t be too yellow, which can happen if they’ve been exposed for too long under harsh light, or too brown, which is a byproduct of oxidation. Look for a bright and hearty green in most leaves. Some stores trim herbs and package them in plastic for easy-to-grab meal prep, but it’s always best to purchase them long and on the stem if possible.

How to store fresh herbs at home

Swish your herbs around in a bowl of cold water to avoid accidentally breaking off any leaves, and pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess water. It’s important that your herbs are as dry as possible before you store them or use them as a garnish.

To keep leafy herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil fresh for four to five weeks, trim the ends of the stems and place them in a mason jar with about an inch of water at the bottom. Cover the jar, either with a lid or with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use your herbs. For heartier herbs with firmer leaves — think rosemary or thyme — wrap them gently in a damp paper towel and place the towel in a container or bag before refrigerating until use.

Photo by alleksana from Pexels

What to do with fresh herbs

Now that you have your herbs at the ready, what’s next?

Dried herbs

Making your own dried herbs is even easier than storing them fresh in the refrigerator. Simply tie a few stems together with a piece of string, and hang the bundle upside down in a dry place. After a week or two, your herbs will be fully dry and can be gently crushed or chopped and added to your spice rack in an airtight container. Drying herbs in your kitchen doubles as a functional piece of decor and a short-term scent diffuser as well. Dried herbs are incredible for packing a ton of flavor into a small package.

Herb cubes

The name for this technique is still a work in progress, but the idea is foolproof: grab an ice cube tray, roughly chop your herbs, and add a few leaves into each ice cube mold. Top off each section with olive oil or water and freeze. Herb cubes are perfect for pan-frying chicken, adding flavor to soups, quickly seasoning vegetables, or even melted over top of popcorn for a savory spin on things. Try mixing different herbs in the same ice cube mold to make your own custom blend.


Of course, you can also chop up your herbs right away and add them to your next meal. Just about anything can benefit from the bright, earthy tang of fresh herbs. Here are a few of my favorite herb-centric recipes.

Homemade Pesto

Reece Dubin

Pesto is the ultimate cooking hack for making any recipe delicious and refined, and making your own pesto from scratch is a lot easier than you might think.

Strawberry Basil Mojitos

Christin Urso

Take your favorite mojito recipe up a notch with fresh basil. This drink is sweet and summery, with a lot of room for customization if you want to mix and match your berries of choice.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Mackenzie Barth

There’s something so comforting about a classic roasted potato with home-grown rosemary. These potatoes make for a pillowy, salty, side dish that goes well with just about anything.

Cilantro and Avocado Dip

Photo by Benj Shapiro

Chips and salsa are my bread and butter, and this cilantro-avocado dip takes it to a whole new level. It’s creamy, a little citrusy, and a great recipe to add to your repertoire.


Photo by Shameel mukkath from Pexels

Another classic condiment that is even better if it’s made from scratch. Add your tzatziki to the chips and dip spread from earlier, dress up a gyro in the traditional Greek style, or use it as a dressing for vegetables or salad.

#Spoon tip: support local farmers by finding your herbs at a farmer’s market this season.