How to Stretch Your Food Dollar: Herbs and Brown Sugar

by in How-to, January 17th, 2012

fresh herbs brown sugar
Many of you tuned in to Food Network’s special, The Big Waste, that aired last week, and we heard from lots of you about how eye-opening and shocking it is to see how much perfectly edible food ends up in the garbage. Even if you’re not tasked with cooking a meal for 100 people using wasted food like chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay and Michael Symon were, you can still learn how to get the most out of your groceries with the tips below.

1. Treat fresh herbs like flowers and give them a vase. Who doesn’t hate it when you need a tablespoon of fresh parsley for a recipe but you’re forced to buy a giant bunch? You can hang on to the extras for another use if you treat them well. Fill a glass halfway with water, remove any twist ties or rubber bands from the herbs, and then place them in the glass, stems down. Cover with a plastic bag (the produce bag you probably brought them home in is perfect), then secure the bag to the glass with a rubber band. This will keep them fresh and usable for much longer than if you’d just tossed them in the crisper drawer.

2. Keep brown sugar soft and moist. Brown sugar is essential in many cookie recipes for keeping them soft and tender. The moisture content in brown sugar is what makes this possible, so you’ll need to make sure your brown sugar doesn’t dry out. If you have an opened bag of brown sugar, close the bag with a rubber band then place it in a zip-top plastic bag, making sure to squeeze out any air that might rob the sugar of moisture. Storing sugar this way means you won’t find yourself all set to make cookies only to realize your stash of brown sugar is as hard as a rock. (If you’re really in a bind, it is possible to rehydrate brown sugar to make it usable again: Remove the sugar from the bag and wrap it in a damp paper towel. Place it on a plate and microwave for 15-20 seconds until it softens up.)

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Comments (25)

  1. Doreen says:

    Great info! really helpful! Thanks food network!!

  2. Melissa B. says:

    Great suggestions! I actually store my brown sugar with a small piece of sliced bread tucked inside the bag. It never gets hard or dries out!

  3. chris says:

    another way to save on herbs is grow your own at home (the seeds i buy are about $1 or $1.50 a pack) and then when ready to harvest them put in a brown paper bag and put in a cool dry place for a couple weeks then you can strip the stems and chop and put into a spice jar

  4. carol says:

    but the bread gets moldy…prolly before you even realize it.

    • Jessy says:

      I've been storing my brown sugar like this for as long as I can remember, and so has my grandmother. Never any mold on the bread.

  5. Tara O'Hara says:

    I take herb growing one step further by harvesting them all in the fall, and dehydrating them myself in a dehydrator. Also, I grow thyme in a container, and bring it inside under grow lights, and it thrives! I have fresh thyme all winter!

    • Eliza says:

      We bring all of our herbs in for the winter under a grow lamp. All but the basil are thriving–not sure what is wrong with it, except maybe that it is the size of a small tree now :)
      We keep our brown sugar in a metal container with a plastic latch-lid which seals it in and works perfectly!

  6. Silvia says:

    you could keep brown sugar moist with marshmallows as well. Toss some in the bag with the sugar. They play tag with the moisture and your sugar will last fluffy and go lucky

  7. Kandy says:

    The herb keepers now sold in kitchen stores really work to keep them fresher for a longer time period and I keep my brown sugar fresh by vacuum packing it with a food sealer.

  8. Jackie says:

    I am surprised that the Food Network has never heard of Tupperware!

  9. Gregory says:

    If you re-cut the stems of herbs before putting them in water, you will get even more storage time
    if your brown sugar is hard and your recipe calls for some liquid, you can break the "brick" to get the amount you need, weigh it, and soften it with the liquid before adding the other ingredients (a pint's a pound, the world around is a good estimation)

  10. Jan says:

    I freeze parsley, cilantro whenever I have extra. A little oil to coat herbs. Zip lock freezer bag. Spread herbs in a thin layer & press all the air out. When I need some, I break off a frozen chunk. Great in any cooked food & salsa etc.

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