Originating from the Middle East and Asia, rosemary is a herb that has grown in popularity around the world.
It is now infused in a variety of different recipes and cuisines because of its bold flavor. It is also believed to have healing properties, making it a critical component in natural remedies and treatments.
In order for rosemary to provide the desired flavor and health remedy, the rosemary must be fresh and not go bad. Below are signs to tell if you can use your rosemary and how to preserve it.
How Long Rosemary Lasts
Rosemary can last for a few months in the freezer and up to two weeks in the refrigerator, so you can make it last longer and avoid excessive food waste on what was not used. First, dry off your rosemary and chop the sprigs into smaller pieces before putting the remaining sprigs inside a freezer bag.
Ways To Tell If Rosemary is Bad
There are a few signs to keep in mind when you are looking at your rosemary and wondering if the plant is still safe for consumption.
If it has gone bad and needs to be thrown out, there will be signs, and you should not consume the rosemary because it is toxic and no longer safe for you. These methods include a variety of signs including mold growth, discoloration, a change in the texture of the leaves, and an overall foul smell coming from the rosemary.
Mold Growth and Color Change
Like other herbs and plants, rosemary has the tendency to mold if it is placed in the right conditions that this bacteria thrives in.
Look for mold growth, as it is often on the tender stem of the plant. With mold comes slight discoloration of the rosemary.
The areas around the mold will start to change into a brown or black color and indicate signs that the rosemary is going bad.
Black discoloration means that the mold has already set in and could be toxic to you if consumed.
Condition of the Leaves
In addition to discoloration of the stem will be the condition of the leaves. Healthy rosemary has strong leaves that are sturdy and stand tall.
When the leaves on the rosemary starts to wilt, this means that the rosemary is dying, and it is not safe to consume.
Be mindful of leaves that have wilted but not changed color. The rosemary is still going bad at that point.
You can salvage some of the rosemary if it is not brown, but you only have a day or less or use it before you have to remove it.
The leaves of rosemary should be firm and strong. If you notice that they are breaking and developing a bit of dusty wreath on the herb, it is time to toss it. It is not safe to eat and can be toxic if you attempt to use it.
This means that harmful bacteria is taking residence inside of the rosemary, causing the dust when it is broken or cut.
In many cases, the mold on the rosemary could be internal, and you not see it until it has broken apart.
Changes in the Smell
Rosemary is very fragrant when it is fresh and ready to be used. The herb has a distinct smell that lets you know it is fresh.
However, if the rosemary is going bad, the smell will start to change. It will lose that aroma and its strong fragrance.
As the smell deteriorates, it will also start to have a hint of sour, which is the mold growing within the rosemary.
How To Keep Rosemary From Going Bad
If you use rosemary regularly and want to keep it fresh longer, you need to make sure that you are caring for rosemary properly so that it will last as long as you need it.
Once the rosemary is pulled from the shrub, it has a lifespan and needs to be cared for and stored so that it lasts, and you do not have to throw it out.
Refrigerator Storage of Rosemary
Storing your rosemary is critical to getting the full 7-8 weeks that rosemary is fresh and safe to eat after being purchased.
Keep it in your refrigerator to make sure that it stays fresh, and the cooler temperatures preserve the leaves of the rosemary.
When you store it in the refrigerator, you need to have it wrapped in either plastic wrap and completely dry or in paper.
No matter which you choose, the rosemary should be dry. If you put it in the refrigerator wet, then your rosemary will start to wilt and grow mold, as the wet and cold conditions allow mold to grow.
Store With Olive Oil
If you want to keep your rosemary out of the refrigerator and will be using it in the next few days, olive oil can help.
Take a few sprigs from the bunch that you have purchased and put them in a jar. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, and close it, leaving the rosemary and olive oil out in room temperature.
This will elevate the rosemary and prevent any discoloration or mold from setting in.
Freeze Your Rosemary
If you bought more rosemary than you plan to use in the upcoming week or two, then you may want to freeze it so that it lasts longer.
Store it in your freezer for up to three months, only taking out what you need at a time. The leaves will hold their posture and when thawed, the rosemary will deliver its natural flavors.
Dry Out Your Rosemary
If you want to use rosemary in a drier texture, you can dry and grind up the herb to use it as a seasoning over the next couple of months.
Allow your rosemary to be dried and sit out on the counter away from any light or sun for a few days. Once the rosemary feels dry to the touch, you have two options.
You can put the sprigs inside a blender and grind it into a powder, or you can put them in an airtight container and use it dried but in full form.
You can store your rosemary on your counter in ground form for a couple of months, using it as you need.
Can I Use Old Rosemary?
If you purchased rosemary a couple of weeks ago and would like to use it, you may still be able to use it.
Depending on how your rosemary looks, you have a certain time frame that you need to use before it is no longer good.
The Green Color is Fading
If your rosemary is still green, just not as bright as it was at the time of purchase, you can still use it.
It has not turned to mold so it is safe and there are no unwanted bacteria in the plant.
Keep in mind that you may need to use more of it than usual because the flavor has started fading with the plant.
If My Rosemary is Black or Brown, is it OK?
Not at all. If your rosemary has transitioned from green to brown or even black, it is time to dispose of the herb and get a new batch.
Black is the worst color it can turn, meaning there is nothing left to salvage on the plant.
At this time, the rosemary flavoring that you are seeking is no longer there. Once the rosemary starts turning black, conditions for black mold have been met and the plant is now molded, making it inedible.
If you purchased a bottle of dried rosemary to use, there will be an expiration date present.
You can use the rosemary through that timeframe and even up to six months after. This is only good as long as the bottle has not been damaged and the rosemary has been stored appropriately in a dry area.
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Always Keep Your Rosemary Fresh
Whether you want to grow your own rosemary or like to purchase it during trips to the supermarket, it is critical to maintain a level of freshness with this herb.
If it is going bad, you need to make sure you throw it out instead of trying to salvage it because of your health.
When you do get your rosemary, know when you plan to use it, how much you plan to use, and store the rest correctly so that you get the most out of your rosemary.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.