Cilantro, also known as “coriander” is a wonderful herb used to dress a variety of dishes, both for flavor and appearance. However, this semi-delicate herb has a tendency to spoil more quickly than even heavy cilantro consumers can handle, sometimes in as little as 48 hours. Here’s how to store cilantro for a week or so to as long as six months.
To store the freshest cilantro, when you bring it home from the store, take the bundle apart, wash the leaves, remove any leaves that are not to your liking and re-bundle the cilantro all laid the same direction. Fill a vase with cool water to about the halfway mark on the vase. If you think about arranging roses, you will be on the right track. Upon re-bundling the cilantro, use a kitchen knife to remove about a half inch from the bottom of the stem. This will open the stems to accepting water, keeping the cilantro fresher for a longer period of time. Once you have cut the tips of the stems, place the cilantro into the vase of water the same you would if arranging flowers. Open a paper bag and turn it upside down, loosely placed over the top of the cilantro and vase. Put the vase full of cilantro, with the paper bag cover, into a refrigerator set at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Repeat these steps daily until you have consumed all of the cilantro, or for a maximum of 10 days.
If you need to store cilantro for longer than 10 days, but do not wish to preserve it by drying it, take the leaves off of the stems, fill the cups of an ice tray with cilantro leaves, fill the tray with water, drowning the leaves, and freeze. After two days of freezing, remove the cilantro cubes from the ice tray and place them in a plastic freezer bag. Then put them back into the freezer. Thaw one cube at a time as needed for use. This storage method will last for up to two months.
To store cilantro for two to six months, you will need to dry the cilantro. Unbundle the cilantro, wash it, cut off a half inch of stem and re-bundle the cilantro with the stems facing in the same direction. Tie the bundle with a string or rubber band. Poke holes in a paper bag every two to three inches; holes make for better air circulation. Place the cilantro bundle in the hole-ridden paper bag. Twist the top of the paper bag closed and tie a string around the top to keep it closed with the cilantro inside. Place the bag full of cilantro in a dark place, such as a pantry or basement and leave the paper bag for a week to 10 days to dry the leaves. Once dry, gently shaking the dried bundle will cause pieces to break easily from the stem. Once dry, store the cilantro in an airtight glass jar.