I know that when it come to food, fresher is better, and I know that herbs are no exception. But when a bunch (even diminutive ones) are $2-4 each at the grocery store, I often hesitate. Since mine always seem to go bad before I have a chance to use most of them, and since I have the dry versions handy in my spice cupboard anyway, I usually ignore recipe exhortations to only use fresh herbs. (Parsley and cilantro being an exception to this rule).
And yet, having some herb plants in the backyard in the summer does remind you of how lovely the freshly-picked leaves can be. The aroma flooding your nostrils seconds after you pluck a few leaves off, or as you brush your hands across the crown of greens. But then buying all those herbs in the garden store ($4 a pop…) can also get pricey, and if your green thumb is anything like mine, you aren’t getting, shall we say, the most abundant harvest out of your pot either.
So I was really excited to learn this trick from Gayla Trail (You Grow Girl)’s guest post here, which you can use with those leftover herbs you were buying anyway. Cut your stem just above or below a node (where leaves grow out). Nip off this set of leaves (if you haven’t already) and another set or two. (Aim for a 5 inch stem). Immerse in water, i.e., just put it in a cup of water like it’s a bouquet) and set in a sunny window. This stimulates root hormone production and within about a week, roots will start to grow. You can then transfer to a pot and you’re off and running.
And it really works! I tried it with store-bought mint, as I’ve heard mint can start to run rampant in a garden really quickly. I have no idea how “fresh” the mint I used truly was–how long it had been languishing under the fluorescent lights of the grocery store or how far it had been shipped to get there, but I now have a lovely healthy pot of mint in my backyard.
Now I just need to get me some lime and summer mojitos are on the menu!
(Why yes, I already have the rum!)