Bought a bunch of fresh rosemary sprigs and unsure how to go about the leftovers? How long does rosemary last, and how do you store it?
Or maybe you’re used to tossing leftover fresh rosemary into the fridge as-is, and you’re wondering if there’s a better to go about storing this herb.
Or there’s an out-of-date jar of dried rosemary in the spice drawer, and you’re wondering if you should toss it or not.
If either sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we talk about everything related to storing, shelf life, and spoilage of both fresh and dried rosemary.
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If you use rosemary regularly for a number of recipes, going with fresh sprigs is an excellent option. The only downside is that fresh rosemary doesn’t last all that long.
Let’s talk about the details.
How Long Does Fresh Rosemary Last?
Fresh rosemary lasts for up to two weeks if you refrigerate it wrapped in a wet paper towel in a freezer bag. If you skip the paper towel, the storage time is cut in half. If you let the fresh herb sit at room temperature, it will wilt and lose quality in a matter of days.
As you can tell, those storage times aren’t particularly long. That means that unless you use lots of rosemary in a single recipe or have pre-planned several dishes that require this herb, your fresh sprigs might spoil before you use them.
Fortunately, you can dry this herb fairly easily. Air-dry your fresh rosemary if you have the right conditions, or use a dehydrator or even the oven to make it quick and simple.
If you know your leftover fresh rosemary will probably lose quality before you use it, dry it. Here’s how.
|Fresh rosemary, in plastic bag||2 – 3 days||5 to 7 days|
|Fresh rosemary, wrapped in a moist paper towel||10 – 14 days|
|Dried rosemary||Best-by + 1 year for best quality|
How To Store Fresh Rosemary
For best results, store fresh rosemary in the fridge, wrapped in a wet paper towel in a freezer bag. If you need it to last only a couple of days, you can skip the paper towel.
Rosemary, and most other herbs ([UCD]), prefer low temperatures between 32°F (0°C) and 41°F (5°C), and high relative humidity. That’s why we store them in the fridge and wrap them in moist paper towels.
The paper towel provides the herb a source of moisture, and that’s why the rosemary can retain decent quality much longer than it does without it.
(Similar setup works for prolonging the shelf life of parsley.)
Can You Freeze Fresh Rosemary?
If two weeks of storage in the fridge aren’t long enough for your needs, and you can’t be bothered with drying the herb, you can always freeze it.
The simplest way to go about that is the following:
- Wash & dry. Wash the sprigs and let them dry on a kitchen towel. Then pat them dry.
- (Optional) Remove leaves from the sprigs. If you use whole sprigs in your dishes, no need to do that. But if you’re only using the leaves, remove them from the sprigs, and freeze only them. This way, you can use the herb straight from the freezer.
- Place in the freezer bag. Transfer the sprigs or leaves into the freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and seal the bag. Add a label with the name and date if you like.
Since the sprigs (or leaves) are dry when you freeze them, they don’t freeze together. Therefore, you can grab as much as you need from the bag when you need it. No need for pre-freezing or anything like that.
I follow the same procedure when I freeze chives.
How To Tell If Rosemary Is Bad?
Fresh rosemary becomes soft and loses its green color after being stored for too long or in sub-optimal conditions. If your sprigs are wilting, look brownish, or kind of yuck, it’s time for them to go.
As with other fresh herbs (e.g., chives), it’s up to you to decide if that old bunch of rosemary sprigs is still good enough to use in cooking. Hint: if they sit in the fridge for like 3 weeks already, they probably aren’t.
Still unsure what to do with your old fresh rosemary? Take a look at the bunch and:
- if it looks decent (or better), use it
- if it’s meh (or worse), discard it
If your fresh rosemary goes bad more often than not, switch to dry rosemary to avoid this issue in the future.
Dry rosemary in a jar or small bag is a great option if you use it only every now and then, and don’t want to deal with storing fresh rosemary in the fridge, or drying or freezing the leftovers.
How Long Does Dry Rosemary Last? Does It Go Bad?
Dried rosemary retains quality for up to three years, or about a year after the best-by date on the label. It doesn’t go bad in a way it becomes unsafe to use or whatnot, but its flavor gradually goes away. And at a certain point, dried rosemary stops doing what it’s supposed to do, i.e., add flavor to your dishes.
To tell if your dry rosemary is worth anything, rub a pinch between your fingers, then smell and taste them.
If the flavor is still there and the aroma is obvious, the spice is good. If both smell and flavor are weak, you might need to use more of the spice to get your dish to taste the way it should. Discard the jar or package if you don’t feel much of anything.
How To Store Dry Rosemary
Keep your bag or jar of dried rosemary in a cool, dark, and dry place. If it’s a small bag, fold the top after opening, or transfer the dried leaves into a jar or container.
A spice rack on the counter is okay, but make sure it doesn’t sit near the stove, sink, or in direct sunlight. This way, you can have your favorite spices within reach but still protect them from heat, light, and moisture.
Never pour dry rosemary directly from the bag or jar into a pot or pan that’s cooking on the stove. That’s an easy way for moisture to get into the bag. Use a teaspoon or your fingers instead.