Fragrant rosemary is a favorite in the herb garden and in the kitchen. Although it’s an evergreen plant, it does enter a state of dormancy in winter. The level of flavorful oils in the leaves diminishes as the plant goes dormant, so harvest rosemary from spring through early fall when it’s actively growing. Harvest rosemary by snipping the branches. Don’t be afraid to trim the plant. Tender new growth is the most flavorful and aromatic, and pruning encourages new growth.
Bring harvested rosemary branches inside as soon as possible after cutting. Brush away surface dirt, plant debris and damaged leaves with your fingers. Do not wash the rosemary in water.
Trim large branches of rosemary into smaller sprigs about 6 to 8 inches long. Gather the sprigs into small bundles and wrap each bundle in a paper towel that’s moist, but not soggy.
Place the wrapped bundles into plastic bags, and leave the bags slightly open to allow some air circulation. Alternatively, you can place plastic cling wrap loosely over the paper towels. A tight seal traps moisture and stagnant air, which encourages mold.
Store the bags of rosemary in the warmest area of the refrigerator, typically a shelf in the door. Check the herb regularly, and moisten the paper towels with a few drops of water if they dry out. Rosemary should keep 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator.
Items you will need
- Hand pruners or kitchen shears
- Bowl or container for sprigs
- Paper towels
- Plastic food storage bags
- Plastic cling wrap (optional)
- Wash the herb under cold running water before use. You can add rosemary sprigs to flavor meats, poultry, soups and stews, or remove the leaves and use them whole or chopped.
- Discard the herb if the leaves become discolored or if mold develops on the stems or leaves.
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