Store freshly cut basil on your worktop in a glass with the water level covering only the stems. Change the water occasionally. It will keep for weeks this way, even develop roots!

Basil hates to be cold, so NEVER put it in the refrigerator. Also, regular cutting encourages new growth and healthier plants.

When using fresh herbs such as dill, chives, parsley, etc., hold them together in small bunches and snip with kitchen scissors. It is a lot faster this way, and you'll find the herbs will be light and fluffy, not bruised and wet as they often get when chopped. You can buy herb scissors too which quarter the time it takes to chop herbs. Herb Mill Or use the fantastic herb mill.

To use up or preserve fresh herbs - make herb butter. Let the butter soften, then add finely chopped herbs in any combination, about 2 to 4 tablespoons per 100g of butter. The butter freezes well, and you can serve it spread on French bread or with seafood or chicken.

· Never heat pesto sauce - the basil will turn black and taste bitter.

· If drying herbs, keep them on the stem to preserve the flavour.

· Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months to keep the true flavour.

Unless you know you will use them up fairly quickly, buy a bottle and split the contents with a friend you'll each benefit from fresh spices.