Who has actually used an entire bundle of fresh cilantro before it goes bad? Whether you grow this herb at home or purchase a bunch at your local supermarket, it doesn’t keep long. The following step-by-step instructions will show you the one major trick you need to know on how to keep cilantro fresh, allowing you to store the herb in the fridge for weeks.
Everyone wants to use fresh cilantro in meals, right? Sadly, since they come in large, cheap bundles, it seems to wilt and go squishy after a few days. Some neighborhoods offer large bunches of fresh cilantro for as little as one dollar!
This is a great deal, but most people are left trying to find a way to use it all before it goes bad. It always does though, and well before we’re able to get through the whole bundle fully.
Well, not anymore.
After trying various methods to keep my cilantro fresh, I found that storing herbs in the fridge is the easiest and most convenient way. This allowed me to get through the entire bundle before the leaves had the opportunity to turn soggy or brown. It’s a simple, effective method that won’t cost you much time, money, or effort.
All you need to try out this method for yourself is:
- A mason jar
- A plastic bag
- A bundle of fresh cilantro
Why Storing Cilantro in the Fridge Works Better
There are many ways to store cilantro after a harvest. After all, most herbs are easily stored in a cupboard or freezer. If you want to keep your leaves crisp and fresh longer, however, using the refrigerator for storage is your best bet.
Cilantro thrives in cold temperatures, so storing this herb in the fridge is the easiest way to preserve it. This plant also begins to wilt when it loses moisture. Therefore, keeping the herb fresh involves keeping it cool and allowing constant access to water.
This process keeps your cilantro from dehydrating in the fridge it’s stored in a plastic bag. The cover works to create an enclosed or nearly enclosed space that locks moisture in. This prevents it from escaping leaves quickly.
Since most refrigerators are pretty dry, they can suck the moisture right out of your plant’s leaves. The goal is to keep the plant’s environment just right, without too little or too much moisture.
Results from Scientific Experiments:
In experiments where other gardeners tested out different methods, storing cilantro in a jar of water on the kitchen counter only lasted about a week before turning. In contrast, whereas cilantro stored in an airtight plastic container kept for ten days longer than the jar on the counter.
The cilantro stored in a small jar of water with a plastic sandwich bag covering the leaves, however, lasted the longest. As the clear experiment winner, this method kept cilantro fresh for just over an astounding four weeks.
There are reports of other people trying this storage method, with shocking results. Some were able to keep cilantro fresh for 51 days!
The results of all these studies are surprising. In my own experience, I was only able to keep my cilantro fresh for about three weeks, which seems common among many others who have tried this method. Studies don’t lie: this process really works.
Let’s look at exactly how it’s done.
Step by Step Instructions
If you use this method, your cilantro can last over two weeks. You can also use this technique to store other fresh leafy herbs such as basil, mint, and parsley.
1. Start with totally dry cilantro, or dry the leaves thoroughly.
Don’t rinse the cilantro just yet! This method works better if you hold off on cleaning your cilantro until it’s time to use it. If your herbs appear to have dirt or other debris, you can just brush it off in the meantime. As dry as possible is best.
2. Cut off the bottom inch off the stems using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors.
Trimming the end of each stem allows you to expose the piece of the herb that’s still alive and able to draw in water. When a stem is exposed to the air for around an hour, they begin to die and lose their ability to take a good drink of water. You can also use a sharp knife if you don’t have kitchen scissors.
Make sure there are no leaves at the bottom of the stems as well. You don’t want the leaves to sit in the water, just like if you were putting cut flowers on display. Each spring should not have any leaves near the last inch of the stem, so you may need to select the best looking stems and trim the leaves away from the bottom.
3. Grab a jar (a mason jar works fine) and fill it about a quarter of the way with water.
Make sure the water level is not over half of the jar, as it only needs to be high enough to cover the cilantro stems without submerging any leaves. A 12-ounce mason jar with a regular mouth is perfect for the task, but you can use any jar that fits your cilantro.
4. Place the cilantro stems upright in the water, as you would with cut flowers.
Holding the stems upright, set them in the jar of water. The herb will absorb water through the stems like a vase in a glass of water, keeping it fresh longer.
5. Cover the cilantro and jar with a loose plastic bag.
Any plastic bag works well. Make sure the plastic bag is clean, and cover the leaves along with the mouth of the jar for the best results.
Some people like to secure the bag in place using a rubber band around the bottom of the jar. Others tuck the bag directly into the mouth of the jar. There are even some people who swear by wrapping the cilantro in plastic and tightening the mason jar’s lid on (if the cilantro fits) as well.
Either way, the seal is the crucial part. It limits the herbs’ exposure to air, and you can just use the plastic bags your local store may offer for transporting produce. You can also use sandwich bags or zipped freezer bags if that’s what you have available.
6. Replace the water every few days, or when it begins to appear discolored.
Fresh water will help keep the cilantro fresh and thriving. When the leaves begin to discolor and wither, which typically takes over two weeks, the cilantro has gone bad.
Using Cilantro Stored in the Fridge
When you need a sprig of cilantro, simply take one from the jar as needed.
Remember to wash and dry the herb before eating, using cool water and paper towels. You can allow it to rest in a colander for a few moments to help dry. Then place it on a few layers of paper towels and the water will naturally drip away. Don’t rub the sprigs dry: use a patting motion to avoid damaging the leaves.
If your cilantro begins to wilt, even in the fridge, it’s probably just dehydrated and you can perk it back up in a matter of minutes. Simply place the stems in a fresh jar of water with the stem sides down. All you need is around an inch of water to give sad cilantro new life.
Now, if the wilting is caused by wet leaves, the greens will rot more quickly. It’s vital for the leaves to remain dry, although it’s fine if the roots or stems are wet.
If you find that you’re having difficulty with a DIY herb jar, consider buying a pre-made one instead. These tend to be taller, and keep the herb bunches upright. They also have easy-to-remove handles, and a mesh at the bottom that keeps the stems in minimal liquid.
Further Preservation Steps You Can Take
You can always attempt to preserve cilantro further if the bundle in your fridge is reaching the end of its shelf life. If you haven’t used the bunch after two weeks, try drying or freezing it to use it all year around.
You can also try hanging the bunches for a few weeks to dry them out, or freeze the herb in some water in an ice cube tray. Both these alternative methods allow you to pop cilantro in the pan while you’re cooking. Preserved cilantro isn’t as fresh, but it’s still an easy way to add flavor to your meals rather than using salt.
You can also chop fresh cilantro and freeze it in ice cube trays with coconut milk and some sesame oil. These are ideal for popping into curries, soups, and various Thai dishes.
Now that you know the easiest way to keep cilantro fresh, try out the method for yourself. You might just need to find a few new recipes, since you’ll have more than enough cilantro to add into them.