Cilantro, also known as coriander, are fresh herbs in the Apiaceae family. Every part of the plant is edible: the seeds, stems, and leaves. Fresh cilantro leaves and the dried seeds (coriander) are the parts most traditionally used in cooking.
Cilantro is a world-famous ingredient used in many Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian, Asian, Caribbean, and other dishes as a garnish. It looks similar to herbs like parsley, but is very different in taste. Fresh cilantro has a strong herbaceous, citrusy flavor that’s more of a mix of lemon, peppery and pungent. For some, it can even taste a bit soapy due to the natural aldehyde chemicals in the leaves.
Although cilantro is a preferred ingredient for many, fresh cilantro leaves can wilt and sag quickly, which makes finding the perfect ways to store them essential. Today I’m sharing effective strategies on how to store cilantro and keep their leaves bright green and perky for a long time.
How To Store Cilantro
If you’ve ever cooked with fresh cilantro, then you know how quickly the leaves can wilt and look sad. If you want to preserve its shelf life, here are several ways to keep yours fresh, including how to store cilantro in the refrigerator, the freezer, and more.
Getting the most usage out of your cilantro starts with the quality of bunches of cilantro you pick out at the grocery store. You’ll want to be sure to pick out leaves and stems that are a strong and vibrant bright green – the greener and perkier, the better.
When you unpack the fresh herbs you just purchased from the grocery store, immediately store them in water as if you would for a fresh bouquet of flowers. First, remove the rubber bands from your bunch of cilantro. Fill a glass with cold water, cover, and store in the fridge. Cilantro leaves love cool temperatures, so be sure to change out the water ever so often. There’s no need to wash the cilantro beforehand. Wash them when you’re ready to use them.
After you’ve placed your bunches of cilantro in cold water, you may also loosely slip a plastic bag on top then store in the fridge. This will keep your cilantro fresh for as long as a month — as long as you occasionally refresh the water in the jar. This is an easy grab-and-go way to store cilantro in the refrigerator.
Rather than use a plastic bag, if you have an airtight container such as a mason jar on hand, you can also store cilantro in that instead. When doing so, you’ll want to put the cilantro stems down first in about an inch of cold water and then store in the fridge. If you start to see the water turn a little foggy before you finish using your bunch, dump it out and refill with more cold water that’s fresh. When stored in the refrigerator this way, it can last for up to one month!
If you don’t have a spare glass or jar on hand, you can also simply wrap your fresh cilantro in a damp cloth or paper towel and toss it in a sealable plastic bag. With this method, your cilantro leaves will last a few days. Just make sure you don’t overwet your paper towel, or else it’ll make the cilantro leaves rot quickly. (P.S. If you see a wilted stem or leaf, take it out quickly so you won’t spoil the rest of the bunch.) You’ll also want to check on the dampness of the paper towel too to make sure it hasn’t dried out. If it does, give it a quick refresh to make sure it doesn’t lose its moisture.
In case you didn’t know, cilantro, just like other fresh herbs, also does well in the freezer. To make sure you keep it fresh, before freezing cilantro, you’ll want to rinse and blanch it first. In order to blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, set aside a bowl of ice water. Once the boiled water is ready, dunk the cilantro leaves and stems in the water for about 10 seconds using a set of tongs, then immediately let it rest in the ice bath in order to stop the cooking process.
The best way to store cilantro frozen is as a pesto in ice cube trays. After blanching the cilantro, you’ll want to pat the herbs dry with a paper towel or use a salad spinner. Remove the cilantro stems, add a little olive oil, and toss in a food processor. Pour the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze for up to six months. This makes the perfect pre-chopped cilantro that can be tossed in any dish.
If you want to get good use out of your cilantro (or other fresh herbs) before they go bad, another way to store is to dry it. Drying your cilantro doesn’t have to be a complicated process. In fact, it can be done all so simply right at home (and save you a little money too)!
In order to dry cilantro, all you’ll need is parchment paper, a baking sheet, and an oven. You can prep your cilantro first by gently washing and drying them. Next, remove the cilantro leaves from the stems, align them on your baking sheet in parchment paper in a single layer, then oven bake them on the top rack at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the cilantro is dry and easily crumbles. Let it cool down for about 10 minutes or so, then with a spatula, crumble the leaves even more before placing them in an airtight container. Dried cilantro can safely be stored for up to 3 years!
If you want to explore more items to add to your healthy grocery list, we’ve got you covered.