We Tried Those Herbs in Tubes — Here’s What We Thought

updated Mar 16, 2020
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3 herb tubes lined up on the kitchen counter
Credit: Joe Lingeman

By now, you’ve surely seen those convenient-looking tubes of chopped herbs hanging out in the produce section. Even if you haven’t actually bought one, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about it.

There’s a tube for just about all the most popular herbs you’d otherwise buy fresh — basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, and oregano. There’s even garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. While a single tube will cost you a little more than a single bunch of fresh herbs, it could actually save you money (more on that below) and the idea is that the tubes last longer, so you’ll have what you need on hand, when you need it. Curious if these were really worth the money (or it’s better to just stick with the fresh stuff), we decided to look into it.

But First, What Exactly Are Herbs in Tubes?

First things first, what’s in these tubes exactly? While each tube contains fresh herbs, it’s actually a paste that’s inside, not straight fresh herbs. Each 4-ounce tube contains two to three bunches of herbs, and after they’ve been washed and chopped, they’re mixed with some oil, salt, and a short list of preservatives (like citric acid, ascorbic acid, and xanthan gum) to keep the color, flavor, and texture intact. It’s worth noting that a tube costs about $4 and can last for up to three weeks. (Let’s say a bunch of fresh herbs costs you $2, that would make these tubes fairly comparable in price.) And even in the best of circumstances, when stored properly that’s likely longer than fresh herbs.

Are These Tubes Worth Buying?

It depends. Like many things, it truly all depends on your lifestyle and what kind of home cook you are. Having tried these things for ourselves, we can say that, while they’re not exactly the same as fresh herbs, they are a decent stand-in.

The answer is yes if:

  • You’re someone who uses fresh herbs just once in a while.
  • You have a history of regularly tossing spoiled, half-used bunches of fresh herbs.
  • You hate chopping up fresh herbs.
  • You don’t have access to fresh herbs.

Remember, these tubes can last for up to three weeks, so you’ve got more time to use them up than a bunch of the fresh stuff. Just keep in mind that they already have oil and salt, so you might want to have a lighter hand with salt and taste as you go.

The answer is no if:

  • You’re someone who uses fresh herbs all the time, and always has a backup plan for how to use up wilting herbs on their last leg before they spoil.

Have you ever bought herbs in tubes? How did you like them? Do you think they’re worth it?