How to Preserve Cilantro

Growing your own herbs offers numerous benefits, including an abundance of fresh ingredients for your culinary creations. Sometimes, though, you might find yourself with more herbs like cilantro than you can consume before they go bad. Fret not, as there are various methods to preserve the cilantro while maintaining its flavor and easy-to-use form.

One way to make the most of your bountiful herb harvest is by incorporating them into delightful recipes or preserving them in various forms for future use. This allows you to enjoy tasty meals all season long, filled with the vibrant flavors of your home-grown cilantro, even in the offseason when your garden is dormant.

Key Takeaways

  • Preserve cilantro for long-lasting flavor and easier use in dishes
  • Utilize your herb harvest in delightful recipes
  • Enjoy home-grown cilantro in meals throughout the season
Substitutes For Cilantro

How to Grow Cilantro Successfully

To grow cilantro effectively in your garden, be aware that it can be a bit challenging due to its tendency to bolt. Bolting means the cilantro plant focuses on producing flowers and seeds instead of growing leaves for harvest. To grow cilantro like a pro, follow these tips:

  1. Plant cilantro during the suitable times of the year to avoid bolting.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the methods to prevent bolting and ensure a healthy cilantro harvest.
  3. Stay vigilant and monitor your cilantro plants closely for any signs of bolting.

Enjoy growing this wonderful herb, and remember that practice makes perfect.

Harvesting Cilantro from the Garden

When your cilantro plants start to grow, you can begin harvesting by carefully trimming the outer, larger leaves using gardening shears or harvest scissors. As the plants become more abundant, you can treat them like a cut-and-come-again crop, similar to salad mix. Simply use your scissors to snip a section of the row, taking only what you need for that day’s meal.

Remember to leave about an inch of growth so the plant can continue to produce more leaves for future harvests. Fresh cilantro doesn’t last long in the refrigerator, so it’s best to harvest it as needed for recipes.

There are instances when you’ll want to harvest most of your cilantro. The first is when it’s about to bolt in late spring or early summer. You should trim the entire bed to prolong its growth and possibly gain a small extra harvest. In mid-fall, if you live in a colder region, you’ll need to collect your cilantro before the cold weather damages it. Although cilantro can withstand frost, its quality deteriorates when temperatures reach the low 20s Fahrenheit.

During these periods, you may find yourself with more cilantro than you can consume, making it the perfect time to preserve your fresh herbs. Before using or preserving cilantro, wash it thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. A salad spinner can be helpful in removing excess water after washing. Other fresh herbs, like basil, can also be harvested and stored in a similar manner.

How to Preserve Cilantro Quickly & Easily

Cilantro is a delicate herb that doesn’t last long in the fridge. However, there are ways to keep it fresh for longer periods, especially if you want to use it in your cooking. Here, we will discuss quick and easy methods to preserve cilantro.

Freezing Cilantro

Freezing is a preferred method for preserving cilantro as it gets closer to its fresh taste than drying. Keep in mind that frozen cilantro is more suitable for cooked recipes rather than a garnish.

Freeze Whole Leaves

If you are short on time, you can simply remove the cilantro leaves from the stems and place them in a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Store the bag in your freezer, and remember to use the cilantro in cooked dishes such as soups and casseroles, as it won’t maintain its bright green color.

Create Cilantro Ice Cubes

Another option is to make cilantro ice cubes, which are perfect if you have a lot of cilantro to preserve or appreciate the convenience of using cubes in recipes. Follow these steps:

  1. Place cilantro leaves and stems in a food processor.
  2. Add enough water or oil to form a thick paste.
  3. Blend the cilantro and liquid into a smooth mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.
  5. Once frozen, transfer the cilantro ice cubes to an airtight container or freezer bag for storage.

These cilantro ice cubes can be used directly in your dishes without the need for defrosting.

Short-Term Refrigerator Storage

If you need to store fresh cilantro for a short period, you can use the following method:

  1. Place the cilantro bunch in a glass jar filled with a few inches of water.
  2. Cover the jar with a plastic bag to prevent the fridge from drawing moisture from the leaves.
  3. Use the cilantro within a week to avoid browning or yellowing leaves.

Note that storing cilantro in a plastic bag in the fridge is not ideal, as the leaves can become brown and mushy. If you must place it in a bag, ensure the leaves and stems are loose, not bundled, to promote air circulation. Another alternative is storing cilantro, washed and loose, in a salad spinner in the fridge.

By following these methods, you can enjoy fresh cilantro for longer periods and enhance the flavors of your favorite dishes.

My Favorite Way to Preserve Cilantro

Preserving cilantro is a fantastic way to enjoy its delightful flavor throughout the year, particularly during the colder months. One method I particularly cherish is incorporating cilantro into delicious herb sauces and pesto recipes, which can then be stored and enjoyed later.

Cilantro-Infused Pesto Adapting your favorite pesto recipes to include cilantro is a fabulous way to create delightful condiments for dishes while preserving the herb. Feel free to blend cilantro into any pesto recipe you like. Some favorites include:

  • Cilantro Hemp Pesto
  • Vegan Pesto
  • Garlic Scape Pesto
  • Basil-based Pesto with other herbs

To store the cilantro pesto, simply pour it into half-pint or full-pint glass jars, and freeze them for future use.

Herb Sauces Whipping up nutritious and delicious meals becomes an effortless task when you have a stash of vibrant herb sauces. These sauces are not only bursting with flavors but also make excellent use of cilantro. Consider trying:

  • Chimichurri
  • Cilantro Lime Dressing (ideal as a sauce)
  • Zhoug or Shatta (spicy options, perfect for hummus or hot sauce substitution)
  • Green Tahini Dressing (amazing with pasta and vegetables)
  • Asian Taco Sauce (for a unique combination atop tacos)

Much like the pesto, these sauces can be prepared in large batches, poured into half-pint or full-pint glass jars, and frozen for future enjoyment.

Growing an abundance of cilantro can motivate you to create these mouthwatering pesto and sauce recipes, making the most of the herb’s unique flavor. The extra effort you invest in preserving cilantro during the summer will pay off during the winter months when cooking becomes more enjoyable with a rich selection of delicious sauces – truly confirming that “It IS all about the sauce!”

Additional Resources for Cultivating and Utilizing Herbs in Your Garden

For those interested in expanding their knowledge of herbs, consider taking a free mini-course called Getting Started Growing Herbs in Your Garden. This course includes 5 informative videos and worksheets to help you:

  • Understand the ease and benefits of growing herbs
  • Determine the best herbs for your garden
  • Identify the optimal location for planting herbs

If you’re seeking a more comprehensive learning experience, check out the All About Gardening with Herbs: Your Guide to Growing, Harvesting, Cooking With, & Preserving a Bounty of Herbs Masterclass. This popular class offers a deeper exploration into the world of herbs, including Mexican, Indian, Chinese parsley, and Mexican parsley. Discover more about this class here.

Don’t forget to share your love for herbs on Pinterest!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I dry cilantro for storage?

To dry cilantro for storage, follow these steps:

  1. Wash the cilantro thoroughly and pat it dry.
  2. Remove the leaves from the stems.
  3. Arrange the leaves in a single layer on a clean towel or a cooling rack.
  4. Place the towel or rack in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  5. Allow the cilantro to air-dry for several days until the leaves are completely dry and crumbly.
  6. Store the dried cilantro in an airtight container away from heat or sunlight.

What’s the optimal way to store cilantro in a mason jar?

Storing cilantro in a mason jar is quite easy:

  1. Fill the mason jar about one-third of the way with water.
  2. Trim the cilantro stems and remove any wilted or yellow leaves.
  3. Place the cilantro in the jar with the stems submerged in the water.
  4. Cover the jar with a plastic bag, and secure it with a rubber band.
  5. Store the jar in the refrigerator, changing the water every few days to keep the cilantro fresh.

How can I freeze cilantro using ice cube trays?

Freeze cilantro using ice cube trays as follows:

  1. Wash and chop the cilantro leaves.
  2. Fill each compartment of the ice cube tray about halfway with chopped cilantro.
  3. Pour water or olive oil over the cilantro, filling each compartment.
  4. Freeze the tray until the cilantro cubes are solid, then transfer them to a ziplock bag or airtight container.
  5. Store the frozen cubes in the freezer for up to 6 months, and use them as needed.

What is the technique for keeping cilantro fresh using a paper towel?

Keep cilantro fresh with a paper towel by doing the following:

  1. Wash the cilantro and pat it dry with a clean towel.
  2. Lay a slightly damp paper towel flat on the counter.
  3. Place the cilantro on the paper towel and roll it up gently.
  4. Place the wrapped cilantro into a plastic bag or container, leaving a small opening for air circulation.
  5. Store the cilantro in the refrigerator, replacing the damp paper towel as needed.

How can I extend the shelf life of coriander leaves?

To preserve coriander leaves for an extended period, you can try any of the above methods: drying, storing in a mason jar, freezing in ice cube trays, or wrapping in a damp paper towel. Choose the method that suits your needs and preferences.

Which is a better long-term option: freezing or drying cilantro?

Both freezing and drying cilantro are effective methods for long-term storage. Freezing retains more flavor and nutritional value, while drying is more convenient as it requires less space and can be easily stored at room temperature. Choose the method that best fits your usage and storage preferences.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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