Who knew that Portland, Oregon was all the rage in Japan? just ask our Guest Editors, whose magazine has a huge Japanese readership, and florist Riley Messina of Erba Studio whose greenthumb has gained major noteriety across the Pacific in publications like ELLE Japan. We think we get it: the quiet, crunchy charm of Oregon’s coolest city fits right in with stylishly minimalistic Japanese design sensibilities.
As a perfect example, this series of photos about fresh herbs, shot by Riley’s boyfriend Parker Fitzgerald (who also shoots for Kinfolk), conjurs up the wabi-sabi esthetic. We asked Riley to create this beautiful glimpse into how she incorporates and cares for fresh herbs in her work. We love the trend of using herbs in floral arrangements more than we can say and Riley is deeply steeped in using them in just the right way. Jot down Riley’s practical tips and get to planning an excuse to use her brilliant ideas for cocktails and centerpieces! Here’s Riley…
Herbs play a big part in the way I operate, not just in the kitchen, but in my studio as well. I love cooking with fresh herbs and almost always incorporate them into my daily meals. What is sometimes surprising, however, is that fresh herbs look and smell fantastic in ﬂoral arrangements. A cluster of purple basil creates beautiful texture and adds a light, spicy fragrance when paired with mint and wild Oregon blackberries (one of my favorite combinations). Personally, I like to store my herbs on the countertop in a pretty vase or bottle cluster. It adds some green to the kitchen, and encourages the use of fresh herbs while freestyle cooking!
Here are some tips on storing fresh herbs beautifully while simultaneously extending their life span…
The refrigerator method
Lay out a kitchen towel with a dry paper towel on top of it. After cutting the stems of the herbs, wrap them in another damp paper towel. Wrap everything into a bouquet and tie with twine for prolonged life in the drawer of your refrigerator.
Measure out the amount of herbs you want to use for a recipe beforehand, and use those herbs to fill few small bottles or pinch pots. This saves time later on and looks lovely in the kitchen!
Combine herbs for meals you like to cook and tie them into bundles for later use. Store them in the refrigerator using the refrigerator method above.
Store your herbs in salt
In an air-tight container with a lid, cover the bottom with a thick layer of salt. Then add an herb, such as basil, then another lighter layer of salt. Continue layering the herbs and salt until the container is full. Top it off with a thicker layer of salt. Press it all down and close the container. Store in a cool, dark place for use anytime.
Arrange herbs like a floral bouquet and store them in water. I like to take a few small bottles, cluster them together and tie them to create one vessel. Herbs get their own individual water source, and the kitchen gets an attractive and useful centerpiece!
Preserve herbs in cube form by freezing them in an ice tray. Add water to fill 1/4 of the cube mold, then an herb of your choice and let it freeze well. Then add another 1/4, another herb, and repeat the process until the cube is complete. Herbs will be encased in the cube, adding beauty and flavor to your cocktails.
Expert tip: before storage, rinse and cut the herbs. If herbs are a bit wilted before putting in water, don’t worry, they will perk up!