Keep herbs for two weeks: Lessons from the CSA

Prairie Garden’s CSA is up and running! We’ve had a potluck, a veggie-garden-in-a-pot workshop and two bountiful spring harvests so far. And on July 3, CSA families start picking up their food from the good farm every Sunday (Monday pick-up is also available in the city).

Even though this is my family’s fourth CSA season, I’m still learning something new every week. What grows when, how to keep it fresh and how to cook all this new food. This week, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about storing fresh herbs and greens. Check Tam’s popular 17 ways to eat your greens blog for how to eat greens every day.

Spring greens and herbs

In the spring, we get lots of greens: oak leaf lettuce, lambsquarters, spinach and my favourite: sorrel! The farm team also harvests bundles of aromatic herbs from the greenhouse: Tam’s famous purple basil, mint, chives, oregano, bright edible flowers and shamrock-shaped oxalis. I get such joy from the mason jars of herbs on my counter all summer. Here’s how to keep your herbs and greens fresh.

Wash and keep in the fridge

Sorrel is a combination of herb and green – it has a tart lemony flavour, so fresh! – and is great torn up into salads or made into classic sorrel soup.

As with most leafy greens – lettuce, kale, spinach – the best way to store your sorrel is to fill the sink with cold water, swish the leaves around to clean the soil off them and dry them with a cloth or in a salad spinner. Then wrap your greens in a paper towel and store them in the crisper in a bag or covered bowl. Then they’re all ready to grab for supper. Chives are also best wrapped in a damp paper towel and kept in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Keep in a jar on the counter

For the last two good farm pick-ups, we’ve received fresh oregano, which is staying incredibly fresh in a jar on my counter. My advice is not to wash them until you’re ready to use them – instead unravel your wild bundle, pick off the lowest leaves to dry in a shallow bowl and clip the bottom stem. Oregano doesn’t generally sprout roots – but mint does, so clip the stems under a node where you’ve taken off the leaf! Thyme and basil also keep well in water.