How to Preserve Cilantro: Ways That Work and Methods That Don't

Tips to preserve cilantro
Cilantro or coriander is a popular herb that is used in many South Asian and other cuisines for its distinct taste and smell. Unfortunately, this fresh green herb tends to wilt and become moldy after a few days. Knowing the best way to preserve cilantro can keep it green and full of flavor.
Did you know...
... that the word coriander is derived from the Greek word koris which strangely, means bugs. Apparently, this is because coriander seeds smell of bed bugs.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, Chinese parsley or Pak Chee is one of the most popular culinary herbs, known for its amazing smell and flavor. This popular, pungent herb was used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans. Today, coriander is popularly used in the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Mexico and Spain. It is commonly used in soups, stir-fries, sauces and chutneys.

While its aroma and taste may make it quite popular as a culinary addition, cilantro is also known to be quite difficult to preserve. You take home a bunch of fresh cilantro and within days the leaves become limp and wilt, even if it is stored in the refrigerator. Moreover, as it loses its freshness, the cilantro leaves and stems also lose their distinct flavor.

If you use this herb in your dishes regularly, then you must have struggled with the best way to preserve coriander. While it is easy to find a bunch of cilantro, it can sometimes be extremely disheartening to find the fresh bunch all moldy and wilted. So how do you know the best way of keeping the bunch of cilantro all fresh and green?
Ways to Preserve Cilantro Leaves
Although cilantro is available all year round in supermarkets, when choosing a bunch for preservation, it is best to opt for a bunch with bright, green leaves and strong smell.
Place it in Water
Cilantro in glass of water
One of the best ways of preserving cilantro is to snip of the ends of the bunch with scissors or kitchen shears, and place it in a jar that is partially filled with water.

Before doing so, rinse the leaves in water and dry them using paper towels. You can skip this step and wash the cilantro before using it. Once the leaves are completely dry, cover the bunch with a loosely-fitting plastic bag. Secure the plastic bag with a rubber band before placing the jar in the refrigerator.

Tip: It is a good idea to change the water after every two to three days to ensure that the bunch stays fresh longer.

Freshness Meter: The cilantro remains fresh for 2 to 3 weeks.
Blanch and Freeze
Fresh cilantro
In case the coriander needs to be stored for long periods, then a great way of ensuring this is by blanching and freezing the leaves and stems. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, keep a pot of ice-cold water nearby.

Insert the ends of the cilantro in the boiling water for a few seconds till the leaves wilt a little. Remove and immediately place the leaves in ice water. The blanching of the leaves helps in killing off the enzymes that decompose coriander, while placing it in ice-cold water stops it from cooking immediately. Use paper towels to pat the blanched and frozen cilantro dry. Strip the leaves from the stems and place them in freezer bags.

Tip: Place the leaves flat in the bag.

Freshness Meter: The cilantro can remain fresh for a month.
Place it in Olive Oil
Cilantro and olive oil
Another great way of storing cilantro is by preserving it with olive oil. To do so, chop the cilantro finely and put it in the blender. Pour half a cup of olive oil and turn the blender on. As soon as the coriander is chopped coarsely (Do not puree the coriander), remove it from the blender and place it in an air-tight container. Once refrigerated, the olive oil and coriander mixture tends to stick together. To use it just spoon out the mixture and add it to the dish.

Tip: Before chopping the coriander, you can blanch and freeze the coriander leaves. You can store the olive oil and coriander mixture in ice cube trays. Whenever you need, just remove one from the refrigerator and add to the curry or soups.

Freshness Meter: Coriander leaves stay fresh and green for a month.
Methods that May Not Work
✗ If you place the cilantro in a small jar of water and leave it outside, it tends to decompose immediately. Coriander needs cool temperatures and should be refrigerated.
✗ Placing the coriander in a container with airtight lid and refrigerating it. The leaves do not wilt but they start turning yellow in around a week.
✗ Freezing fresh coriander does not work as the decomposing enzymes are not affected by freezing. It thus turns all mushy when the frozen cilantro thaws.
Coriander when used in dishes helps in adding its distinct flavor to it. Keeping it fresh using these preserving techniques can ensure that you get this green and flavorful cilantro for a long time.