Since it is one of the most popular herbs out there, knowing how to store cilantro is an important kitchen skill. Cilantro is a sensitive herb both to grow and to preserve. Without proper preparation, it can wilt and become unusable in only a couple of days. However, armed with the right knowledge, you can keep a bundle fresh for several weeks at a time.
This guide will tell you exactly how to do that.
The Best Ways to Store Cilantro
Cilantro loves cool temperatures. As a result, the best place that you can possibly store this herb is in a refrigerator. Most of the methods we will be introducing in this guide will have to do with your fridge.
Arguably, the best thing to do is treat cilantro like a flower.
Pour some water in a jar and turn it into an ad hoc vase. Then, submerge the stems of the herbs and voilà.Basically, the objective is to make a cilantro-themed herbal bouquet.
It may sound too simple to be true, but this method can keep the herb living and fresh for one to two weeks.
But what if you need to store cilantro for longer than two weeks?
The alternative is to freeze it. Fortunately, unlike many other herbs, cilantro behaves very well in the freezer. Once frozen, you can keep the herb for around two months.
There is one caveat, though. During the freezing process, you will have to cut the leaves into small pieces to make them easier to freeze. Additionally, when you thaw it out for use, the cilantro will become mushy.
Therefore, frozen cilantro doesn’t make a good garnish. Instead, add it to soups, stews, chili, etc. Many kinds of sauces can also be prepped with cilantro (think Zhoug sauce).
How to Prepare Cilantro for Storage
When you bring back a bundle of cilantro from the store or harvest it from the garden, wash the leaves carefully. Fresh cilantro is often caked in sand and soil.
Put the bundle into a large bowl of cold water and gently scrub the leaves. If the water begins to become murky, change the water. Scrub until the leaves are acceptably free of dirt.
After that, we recommend you soak the bundle of cilantro in cold water infused with a mild vinegar solution. The ratio is 1 part vinegar to every 4 parts of water.
This step is very important.
According to the FDA, herbs that are usually served fresh like cilantro, parsley, and basil often harbor dangerous bacteria. The lush, green leaves can contain just about anything ranging from Salmonella, Shigella sonnei, to Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC). All of them can cause potentially lethal food poisoning.
The vinegar serves as a natural disinfectant.
Soak the bundle of cilantro in the mixture. After 5 minutes, remove it and rinse off the vinegar under cold running water.
2. Dry & Stem
Prior to storage, you have to make sure that the leaves are completely dry. Hold the bundle of cilantro by the stem in the sink and gently shake off the water. You can blot all of the excess moisture remaining on the leaves using paper towels.
Alternatively, you can use a salad spinner.
Once dried, you should inspect the bundle for any bad leaves (wilted or rotten). Pluck them from the bundle and discard.
Lastly, cut off the bottom of the stems. This will increase the water absorption rate of the herb, keeping it fresh longer.
How to Store Cilantro
1. In the Fridge
Like we mentioned earlier, take out a large jar and fill it with about 3 inches of water. Submerge the snipped stems of the cilantro inside. The water will keep the herb fresh for the next couple of weeks.
However, a very common problem with this method is that the leaves will eventually dry out. This causes the cilantro to wilt and rot.
A simple fix is to wrap the top of the jar (and by extension, the cilantro) with a plastic bag. The bag will retain moisture and keep the leaves wet.
Store the entire jar in the fridge. The best storage temperature for cilantro is between 32 and 40°F.
Change the jar’s water every couple of days or anytime it turns murky.
2. At Home for Immediate Use
If you don’t plan to store cilantro for weeks and don’t want to use cold cilantro, there’s an alternative.
The initial steps are the same as before: clean the cilantro, put it into a jar, fill it with water. But this time, skip the fridge and plastic bag. Instead, just leave the jar of cilantro on the countertop. This method is similar to how you would preserve more temperature-sensitive herbs like basil.
When stored in this manner on the countertop, a bundle of cilantro will remain fresh for up to a week. However, mileage will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The colder it is, the longer the cilantro will hold up.
Plus, if you position the cilantro jar strategically enough, it can make for a very nice décor piece.
How to Store Cilantro for the Long Term
Freezing is the best method for storing cilantro for long periods of time. It is fairly simple.
First, wash and dry your cilantro as usual. Then, place the herb bundle on a chopping board and cut the leaves into small pieces.
Put the pieces into the slots of an ice tray. Fill each slot with a small amount of water (just enough to cover the leaves). Place the tray into the freezer overnight.
Check on the progress of your cilantro ice cubes in the morning. If they have frozen nicely, label the ice tray with the freezing date for easier management. After that, put the tray back into the freezer for storage.
Using this method, your cilantro will remain usable for up to two months.
Now that you have learned how to store cilantro the right way, practice! You can never go wrong with an ample supply of herbs in the kitchen.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.