I was re-arranging my shelves the other day and discovered a jar of calendula flowers that I forgot to transfer to a dark jar. The contrast is striking:
Not all herbs will show degradation this quickly or dramatically. I have some Lemon Verbena that also got missed and spent the last 7-8 months in clear glass. I can see no difference between it and the batch stored in dark glass. Even the aroma is just as strong. But now that you see how much difference it will make, you’ll want to start looking for dark glass jars.
My favorite jars are the brown quart jars that Ovaltine used to be sold in, until they went to plastic. My sister-in-law gets a protein powder that comes in 1-quart brown jars, very similar to what Ovaltine used to use. These are just perfect but you have to go through a lot of protein powder to supply my jar needs.
You can always order jars from the internet, like these from Amazon. The bottle on the left looks really good (they didn’t have this style a couple years ago when I was buying dark jars) but I can’t tell how wide the mouth of it is. I want a mouth that is big enough to get herbs in without too much crunching or cramming.
The ones on the right are the ones I’ve bought lots of. They fill up awfully fast, so I buy them by the case. The 4-oz size is good for herbs I don’t need a lot of or that don’t produce a lot (like rosemary and lavender.) But for my favorite herbs (like parsley, dill and basil) I need several of the 9-oz size jars to hold everything.
That is why my husband’s suggestion to paint jars was the perfect solution. The jars were free–jars we’d already used and I hadn’t yet taken in to recycle. All it cost me was some paint and a little time to decorate them. Here’s how I made them. The end result is ideal for storing herbs and is a pretty addition to my shelves. Since the jars all have unique shapes and sizes, it’s easier to find the herb I need without a whole lot of searching.
No mater what you choose: pastic or glass, brand new or recycled, just remember that your herbs will always stay fresher longer if they are protected from light.