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I love herbs. When I buy them in packets, it seems they are ludicrously overpriced and go bad quite quickly. I keep them in the fridge, but perhaps there is a way to make them last longer? I have tried buying potted plants but either 1. I use the herbs so much the plant is depleted after a very short while, or 2. If I try to be sparing, the plants tend to die anyway.

Does anyway have advice on cheaply keeping a constant supply of fresh herbs (particularly rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley).

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Agree that planted herbs are great but you say you've tried that. I kill about 1/4 to 1/2 what I plant, but those that live thrive and get bigger. After a big push just over a year ago I have an endless supply of thyme, rosemary, lemon balm and a dozen sage varieties. I do think it helps if you use them sparingly in their first season so they can get established.

I don't know where you live, but if in a city or anywhere near a foreign enclave you might find herbs at an Asian market or other international market much cheaper. It's $4-6 for tiny plastic container of cilantro or mint at my local grocery, for instance, but at the Vietnamese and Chinese markets it's usually 0.50 - $1.25 for a big bunch.

To make any leafy green herb last longer in the short term wrap them in a wet paper towel and put that in a plastic bag.

You can freeze what you don't use in small ice cube trays for easy serving / use later. I especially like this for basil and mint. You can also buy pre-frozen herbs.

You can also dry them - air dry upside down, accelerate by drying them in the oven on low (very low) or use a food dehydrator.

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Grow them! It's easy, cheap and they'll always be available. NOthing you'll ever grow will give so much back for so little input.

Many herbs - especially rosemary, sage and thyme - are woody perennials and once established in a sunny corner of your garden, they will grow and spread and you'll have them all year round, if your winters aren't too harsh. Better still the woody herbs actively prefer poor, free draining soils with lots of grit mixed in, so they will grow, look good and be fragrant in sunny, high traffic spots such as the edge of a path, where other plants, even grass won't easily grow.

Buy a couple of growing pots from a good local garden centre and have a go. Parsley is a little harder (it germination can be erratic), but it's a binannual (which grows one year and flowers the next), so once you have a root established you'll get a couple of years out of it. Like coriander leaf it needs sun, but more moisture. If you have a moist, even slightly shady spot, and plant chives and mint, you'll never get rid of them as they are hardy and prolific.

Basil will grow very well on a sunny windowsill if you keep it in moist and rich compost and frost free.

Good luck. Nothing steps your cooking up to the next level like everyday access to fresh herbs.

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Frozen herbs taste almost as good as fresh ones, and last for ages. I can find the common herbs (e.g. parsley, chives, as well as some mixtures) for around 50 Eurocents for a cigarette pack sized package. I guess that freezing them yourself will work too, but both the packs and pot plants are overpriced :( (I pay anywhere from 1.50 € to 2.50 € for a mug-sized pot with 4-5 sprigs of herb, and packs or bouquets cost similar for less plant matter, if available at all).

The optimal solution would be to plant them in your garden, use them in summer, and freeze them for winter, but this solution requires, of course, time, a garden, and somewhat of a green thumb (although some herbs will grow with practically no care). Else you could go to a farmer's market and see if they sell herbs in bulk. Ethnic grocery stores are also likely to have herb bouquets much cheaper than supermarkets, for example spearmint is really common in Turkish stores.

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a) Dry up
Thyme / Peppermint: Should be dried up (if not already) and hang up as a bunch somewhere it gets no humidity (definitely not around cooking area) or grinded by hand and put in a jar with a tight top which isolates air well.

Sage: Dried and bunched as above. Grinding not recommended.

Drying procedure: Wash the fresh herb (separate the branches if in bunch) and put on a paper towel to absorb all the water first. Then put the herb on a large paper with all the branches separated and let to dry up well (It may take some days!) The paper should not be placed anywhere humid.

Testing: If herb gets crashed in between your fingers easily then it dried up well – you can either make a bunch and hang up or grind/crash by hands and put in a jar with tight top.

b) Grow them as "Paul L" recommended

Most of the herbs/plants die just because they are not in proper pot (mostly very small) with proper soil mixture.

Buy a pot of rosemary/laurel bay/parsley/mint, etc. And then change the pot with a bigger size one (big enough to let the herb to grow up) and change the soil as indicated below.

Soil mixture: 2 units of garden soil (from garden/park, etc.) + 1 unit of Turf (from shop) + ½ unit of unsalted sand (if possible, but not very critical).

Mix them all. First put a few smal stones (supllied from garden/park, etc) into the pot (make sure the pot has water drainage holes underneath). And then fill roughly ¾ of the pot with soil mixture. Then place your plant/herb into the soil.

Then put rest of the soil mixture around the plant (make sure the roots are not left out of the soil or your plant is not placed too deep in the soil which covers the leaves) and then water it.

Place the pot where it gets light (but not directly) and air (but not cold).

Watering period: Check the soil with your finger; the soil should be always humid (neither dry nor muddy - overdose watering also harms the plant).

You can have same rosbery and laurel bay for years and years by the side of a small kitchen window. If you also learn how to prune them, they will live even longer.

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