Cilantro is one of those herbs that are water-rich yet with thin leaves. When dried, it will last for 2 years or even longer while retaining its flavor. You can use a dehydrator or a microwave for this procedure, but air drying is my favorite method.
Air-drying is the best way to prepare cilantro for long-term storage. Simply tie a bunch of cilantro with a string and hang it in a moisture-free area to dry naturally. Crush the dry leaves and store them in an airtight container for as long as 2 years.
Preserving herbs is incredibly simple, but more often than not, people get it wrong. The most common method used is freezing and storing in the fridge. Drying is a great option if you want to store herbs like cilantro for long.
Is it good to dry cilantro?
Some herbs do well when dried while others not so much. The preferred method of preserving cilantro is freezing and refrigeration.
The problem is, cold storage does not make cilantro last a very long time. The best option for long term preservation would be drying and crushing them, then storing them in an airtight container just like those you’d find in the spice aisle.
So, yes, it is good to dry cilantro if you want to store the herb for more than 3 months. The method you use is very important in maintaining the flavor and general quality of the spice.
You can use your dehydrator or microwave to dry cilantro leaves for later use. But my favorite method is air-drying herbs.
How to air dry cilantro
Air-drying is simply letting cilantro leaves dry slowly, which is a more natural process compared to using a microwave or a dehydrator. Heat drying herbs removes not only water but also essential oils, making the herb lose its flavor. That is why it is best to air-dry such herbs to retain their quality.
Here’s how to air dry cilantro leaves:
- Gather your cilantro and check to remove dirty, wilted or rotting leaves.
- Wash the cilantro leaves under cool, running water if they’re dirty (otherwise do not wash).
- Pat dry the leaves with paper towels or use a colander to remove excess water.
- Gather the cilantro into bunches and tie the stem ends together with a thin gauge wire or a string.
- Hang the bunches in a dry area, preferably away from the kitchen, to air-dry and retain the flavor.
- After a few days, put the dehydrated cilantro in a paper bag poked with a few holes to protect it from gathering dust.
- Tie a string on the opening end of the paper bag and hang it in a dry place.
- Crush the dry cilantro leaves and store them in an airtight container.
Pro tip: Air-dry your cilantro in a shaded area and not in the sun. Sun-drying will speed up the dehydration process and cause loss of essential oils and flavor. Before crushing, check the leaves to make sure they are crisp and crumble easily.
How to dry cilantro in a dehydrator
A dehydrator can make the drying process faster, but it is not my go-to method because it evaporates moisture really fast. That means you’re going to lose lots of oils as well from the cilantro.
However, the method is effective and can be used if you have a lot of the herb from harvesting and you want to preserve it for a long time.
Here’s how to dry cilantro in a dehydrator:
- Wash with running water under the kitchen sink.
- Pat-dry using paper towels to remove any extra water and moisture.
- Chop the cilantro leaves and spread them on a tray.
- Set your dehydrator to about 95 °F to slow dry the cilantro.
- Place the tray with cilantro leaves into the dehydrator for about 4 to 5 hrs.
- Remove the dry cilantro leaves from the dehydrator.
- Crush the leaves and place them in an airtight container for storage.
Slowly dehydrating herbs does a better job than when you set the temperature to, say, 225 °F.
Drying cilantro in a microwave
A microwave can also help you with the process if you do not want to air-dry cilantro. The procedure is very simple as follows:
- Clean a fresh bunch of cilantro.
- Pat dry using paper towels.
- Cut the cilantro into small pieces.
- Spread the chopped leaves on a microwave tray.
- Put it in the microwave and let it run for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove it from the microwave turn the leaves around a little bit.
- Put back in the microwave for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the dried leaves and crush them.
- Place them in a container for storage.
The quality of microwaved cilantro may not be as good as that of air-dried cilantro. I wouldn’t recommend using this method on a lot of this herb because the flavor will be fairly compromised.
How long can you keep dry cilantro?
The preferred method for storing cilantro for flavoring food is refrigeration. However, that will only keep it fresh for a few days.
Dried cilantro will retain its flavor for over one year. You can keep dry cilantro for as long as 2 years, but make sure you store it in a dry environment. Any moisture entering the dried leaves can cause molding and damage to your spice.