5 days after I purchased fresh Fenugreek, I noticed some of its leaves turned pale yellow.
What does that indicate, and how to prevent it (if it is a bad thing)?

The Fenugreek was placed as a tied bundle on the kitchen counter for 5 days.

3 Answers 3


When you buy it, the fenugreek is almost certainly still alive, even if the roots have been cut off. It continues to respire and metabolize, or tries to. The leaves almost certainly wilted because the plant had no water.

Treat it like flowers if you are going to hold it for a more than a day or two, by giving it water at the roots or root end of the stems (if you have no roots, again like flowers, trim off the bottom of the stem, to allow a fresh surface to absorb the water). This technique also works with celery (very well, in fact), parsley, cilantro (eeew!!!) and so on.

  • so, the yellow leaves indicate that the plant is "drying"? Yellow leaves need to be preserved for eating? Dec 19, 2012 at 10:02
  • 1
    More like dying (no r), although I am no expert horticulturalist. You asked in another question about drying your fenugreek. I believe your best bet is to hold it in its best fresh condition, until you begin intentionally, whatever drying process you are going to do (food dehydrator, oven, whatever), but you want that process to be controlled. Think about leaves outside--most of them rot, rather than dry out when just left around. To dry them, you need specific conditions conducive to the process, and you want to start that process with the freshest best quality ingredient you can.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Dec 19, 2012 at 10:05

It's a sign that chlorophyll, the substance that enables photosynthesis and gives the plant is green colour is fading from the plant due primarily to lack of water and nutrients. When chlorophyll fades you're left with the underlying colour of the leaves.

It's simply a sign that water is evaporating from the leaves.

If you don't like the yellow colour, just remove those leaves, it doesn't have any effect on the overall flavour or usefulness of the herb.

The only way to prevent it, is to keep the stems in a glass of water, which helps to preserve the chlorophyll, but it won't do so forever, eventually the leaves will still turn yellow. However, if you're trying to dry the leaves that's rather counter-productive!

  • so, you mean to say that eventually "dry leaves" will turn "yellow"? Dec 20, 2012 at 11:10
  • @AnishaKaul If you leave them long enough, eventually they will turn yellow. Have a look at falling leaves in Autumn, those yellow, gold, amber tones are mostly a result of chlorophyll leaving the leaves. But dried leaves can still retain its chlorophyll, if you look in a packet of pre-bought fenugreek leaves, most of them are still green. It's not just the drying out process that causes it, it's also the lack of nutrients - specifically Nitrogen. Dec 20, 2012 at 11:17
  1. First, you pluck out the thin tiny stems along with leaves from the thick stems. The bitter, thick stems are discarded, no second thoughts.
  2. Second, if you have to use the fenugreek leaves right away for cooking, give the leaves a quick water bath inside one bowl of water, then dip them in another bowl of clean water. Give a swirl, you know, with your fingers. Pick the leaves, the way you’d pick small fishes in net for your aquarium? These can now be used for you to cook.
  3. Third, instead of cooking right away if you want to store fenugreek leaves for longer, don’t wash them – wrap the plucked out leaves inside a newspaper (good idea) or paper towel (better idea) and inside a Ziploc or plastic bag. Measure like I did, if you want. I did not know what the opposite of ‘washed leaves’ would be, so I wrote ‘unwashed’.

It’s not a word I know, but do what works, hehe!

These will store well for over two weeks.

  • Very interesting, but it doesn't really answer the question does it? Dec 19, 2012 at 12:45
  • She did ask for tips on how to prevent it and this answer does just that, as opposed to other answers. Wrapping it in paper or ziploc bags is the best tip ever since I preserve the leaves that way.
    – Mamta D
    Dec 27, 2012 at 6:47

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