10/07/2011 10:44 am ET Updated Dec 07, 2011

Preserving Herbs for Winter

The Splendid Table's® How to Eat Supper, By Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Lynne,

How should I keep fresh herbs for a week, then preserve them for winter? At three big bunches for a buck, I am up to my hips in green.

Paul in San Mateo

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Dear Paul,

You have a steal. You'll preserve the freshest, brightest flavors if you freeze a big batch right from the market. After test driving every technique I could find, freezing wins hands down for the long term.

Wash herbs in a couple of sinkfuls of cold water. Drain them on a dish rack to dry. Pluck leaves from basil and other large leaf herbs. Leave small-leafed ones, like thyme and rosemary, on stem. Stuff them into heavy plastic zip-closed bags, press out all air, and freeze up to six months.

To use, don't defrost. Break off what you need. Colors may darken and leaves get mushy, but the bright flavors will be there.

For short term, get as much moisture as you can off the leaves and pack them with paper towel in airtight plastic bags stored in the warmest part of the refrigerator which is the vegetable bin.

For a few days keeping, do herb bouquets (cut stems first) in water on your counter. Beware, though, basil can turn bitter if held this way for more than a couple of days.