Ideally, you’d “store” fresh herbs in the garden, never snipping more than you needed. The chives on your scrambled eggs, the cilantro on your tacos, and the basil on your pizza would always be bright, fragrant, and bursting with life. Alas, the real world doesn’t work that way. To avoid wasting nature’s herbaceous gifts, we must use our ingenuity.
There are multiple complex factors influencing produce’s longevity, and most of us don’t have the means, the time, or even the inclination to precisely control for all of them. Conjuring maximum herbal freshness is therefore more art than science. Rather than recommend one approach, let’s discuss the basic elements of freshness, then look at how things can go wrong so that you can respond based on what you observe in your kitchen.