Fresh green herbs

How to select

Herbs should look fresh, crisp, and brightly colored. Avoid herbs that are wilted, have dry brown areas, or are pale or yellow in color.

How to prepare

  • If fresh, typically remove from stems to add to dishes. 
  • Herbs should be added near the end of cooking time or just before serving for best flavor. 
  • Delicate, fresh herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro, dill leaves, parsley, and mint should be added a minute or two before the ending of cooking or sprinkled on just before serving. 
  • Less delicate herbs like dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme should be added to dishes during the last 20 minutes of cooking.

How to store

  • Keep away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight. 
  • Trim stems, fill a jar with water, place cut fresh herbs in water, cover with a plastic bag, and secure with a rubber band. 
  • Store in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter. 
  • Wrap herbs in a damp paper towel, place wrapped herbs in a zip-close bag and store in the refrigerator. 
  • Fresh herbs can be maintained longer if they are stored in airtight containers. 

Peak season


Ways to use

  • Herbs can be added to soups to change the recipe flavor. 
  • Try different mixes of parsley, thyme, chives, rosemary, oregano, or basil. 
  • Cilantro is a great addition to fresh salsa or on top of tacos. 
  • Use different herbs to liven up the flavor of meals, vegetables, or breads.

How to use

  • A good general guideline is not to mix two very strong herbs together, but rather one strong and one or more milder flavors to complement both the stronger herb and the food.
  • Dried herbs are stronger than fresh, and powdered herbs are stronger than crumbled. A useful formula is: ¼ teaspoon powdered herbs = ¾ to 1 teaspoon crumbled = 2 teaspoons fresh.
  • Leaves should be chopped very fine because the more cut surface exposed, the more flavor will be released.
  • The flavoring of herbs is lost by extended cooking. Add herbs to soups or stews about 45 minutes before completing the cooking

Cooking with herbs

  • Anise: Use anise on pork, chicken, fish, stews, beverages, and stewed fruit. Use anise seeds in baked goods
  • Basil: Use basil with tomatoes and tomato dishes, vinegars, rice, eggs, meats, duck, salads, vegetables.
  • Chives: Use chives on salads, stews, appetizers, vegetables, butter, yogurt and sour cream sauces.
  • Dill: Use dill on fish and fish sauces, cottage cheese, breads, beets, cucumbers, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and salads.
  • Fennel: Use fennel with tomato dishes, eggs, fish, marinades for meats, carrots, pickles, breads and baked goods
  • Marjoram: Use marjoram with stews, soups, meats, tomato dishes, vegetables, eggs, breads, and french dressing.
  • Mint: Use mint on salads, lemonade, tea, potatoes, scallops, sauces, jelly, sherbet, lamb, and fruit.
  • Oregano: Use oregano in Italian tomato sauces, barbecue sauce, soups, eggs, cheese, pork, vegetables,and  salad dressings.
  • Parsley: Use parsley in tomato sauces, fish, meats and poultry, soups, stews, and vegetables.
  • Rosemary: Use rosemary on lamb, pork, vegetables, chowders, and cheese.
  • Sage: Use sage on fish, meat, poultry stuffing, chowders, soups, and tomatoes.
  • Savory: Use savory with pork, chowders, stews, fish, eggs, salads, beans, and biscuits.
  • Tarragon: Use tarragon on eggs, yogurt and sour cream dishes, meat, asparagus, beans, and cucumbers.
  • Thyme: Use thyme in stews, clam chowder, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, stuffings, bread, biscuits, lima beans, broccoli, and onions.

Fun facts 

  • Many herbs have long-standing symbolic value; bay leaf wreaths symbolized victory and peace in ancient Rome. 
  • Thyme gets its name from the Greek word for bravery (Thymus). 
  • Sage was once considered the best herbal medicine.

Nutrition info and facts

Good sources of antioxidants. Can help reduce inflammation.

5 basil leaves, 5 sprigs dill = 7 mg potassium; 1 Tbsp rosemary = 11.4 mg potassium, 5 mg calcium

Learn more

Growing herbs in home gardens (UMN Extension)

Expand all


FoodData Central. Basil, fresh. April 2018.

FoodData Central. Dill weed, fresh. April 2018.

FoodData Central. Rosemary, fresh. April 2018.

Fightershots. 31 Things you didn't know about spices and herbs. October 1, 2021.