Freezing cilantro retains more of the herb's flavor, but drying is the second-best preservation option if you are unable to freeze the cilantro. Dry it using the cheapest, easiest method available. While a dehydrator works well to dry cilantro, air drying provides just as good a result. Dried cilantro lasts as long as two years, and you don't have to worry about freezer burn or other problems that occur when freezing food.
Wash the cilantro under cool, running water and dry it thoroughly, but gently, with a paper towel.
Gather the cilantro together, and tie the stem ends together with piece of string or twine.
Hang the cilantro bunch in a dry area until all the water evaporates from the leaves of the herb.
Place the bunch upside down in a paper bag. Tie the paper bag closed and poke several holes in the bag with the tip of a knife to allow for ventilation.
Hang the bag in a warm, dry area that is not in direct sunlight.
Open the bag and check the herbs every few days to see if the cilantro is sufficiently dry. The herb should feel crisp and crumble easily in your hand, with no areas of moisture. It should take about one to two weeks to properly dry your cilantro.
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- Keeping the cilantro in a bag while it dries allows the leaves to drop into the bag rather than onto the floor or counter.
- Store the dried cilantro in a sealed, airtight container.
- Dried cilantro tastes best when added to cooked dishes as opposed to salsas or salads.
- Select cilantro for drying that has fresh, healthy leaves; avoid cilantro with wilted leaves.
- Store fresh cilantro until you are able to dry it by placing the stems in 1 inch of water and covering the plant with a plastic bag. Fresh cilantro should keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- Do not hang the bag of cilantro near a stove, where it may come into contact with grease. Grease and cooking odors can alter the flavor of the cilantro.
Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.
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