Fresh herbs like cilantro (coriander leaves) are great, but keeping them fresh for long can be a big challenge. With a few simple tricks I’ve shared below, you will be able to store cilantro and keep it fresh for long.
Cut off the root and pat dry the leaves using a paper towel. Put the stems in a jar with a small amount of water, and loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag to lock in the moisture. Store it in the fridge for two weeks.
Note that you should not wash cilantro before storing this way. Also, prevent wilting by sealing the jar with a plastic bag secured using a rubber band as explained below.
How to store cilantro for long
Cilantro is a great herb you can use to spice up your dishes. When you have it in excess from the garden, it can go bad really fast if you don’t store it properly. So, how do you keep coriander leaves fresh for long?
My go-to methods of preserving cilantro are refrigeration, freezing, and drying. These hacks work for different uses and will preserve the fresh herb without affecting its flavor.
1. Keep cilantro in the fridge
Your fridge will preserve herbs for a long time if you keep them moist. That’s exactly how you should store your cilantro. But just tossing a bunch of cilantro into the fridge won’t do it.
You need a jar with fresh water, and some plastic bags – and of course a running refrigerator. Ready with preserve fresh coriander leaves?
Here’s how to keep coriander leaves fresh in refrigerator:
1. Cut the cilantro roots off with a sharp knife
Place the bunch of cilantro on a chopping board and cut off the roots about 2 inches from the bottom. This is to allow the cilantro to absorb water when you place it in a jar as explained in step 3 and 4 below.
Be cautious not to tear the cilantro when cutting as this will cause injury and expose the herb to oxidation.
2. Soak up excess moisture with paper towels
You want to keep cilantro leaves in the fridge when they’re dry to prevent excess moisture that can lead to quick decay.
To do this, use paper towels to pat-dry the leaves gently. The towels will absorb excess moisture, leaving it dry for storage.
Remember not to rub off any water droplets or moisture. This will bruise the leaves of the herb and make it go bad quickly even when stored in the refrigerator.
Pro tip: Do not wash cilantro before storing it. The excess moisture you’ll leave on the leaves and stems will make the herb go bad faster, and reduce its shelf life. Simply place it in the jar the way you harvested it from the garden and store it using the procedure above.
3. Fill a jar with about 3 inches of water
Water will play a very important role in keeping cilantro fresh for up to a week. However, put only a small amount of water in the jar, filling it no more than 3 inches high.
You just want to keep the stalk-ends to be in the water as opposed to submerging the entire bunch of cilantro in water.
4. Insert the bunch of cilantro in the jar with water
Carefully place the prepared cilantro into the jar of water. You want to make sure the stems are inside the water while the leaves are outside the jar (or at least a big part of them).
This step makes sure the cilantro is able to absorb water and remain fresh over a long period when stored.
Try not to overcrowd the herbs in one jar. If you have a couple of bunches you’d like to preserve fresh, distribute them in different jars to make sure they have enough room to breathe and remain fresh.
5. Cover the cilantro leaves with a plastic bag
Get a clean plastic bag, preferably a transparent one, and place it over the cilantro leaves. Make sure you cover the leaves as well as the mouth of the jar, but do it loosely so that you do not push the herb’s leaves down into the jar or cause them bruising.
I found using a rubber band to loosely secure the plastic bag around the jar’s mouth works great. When properly secured, it will prevent air from entering the jar and causing your coriander leaves to wilt and dry.
6. Place the jar with cilantro in the fridge
Cilantro leaves will keep fresh for long if stored at low temperatures. Put the jar in the fridge, and let it stay fresh for up to two weeks. If you’ve just harvested your cilantro, preserve it at 32°F in order to make it last for up to 4 weeks.
According to Johnny Seeds on cilantro and coriander production, “…ensure that the leaves are thoroughly dry before you bunch, package, and refrigerate them. Cool immediately and store at 32°F (0°C). At this temperature, cilantro should have a shelf life of 3–4 weeks.”
Pro tip: Check the water often to ensure it remains clean and fresh. If you notice discoloration while still in the fridge, replace the water immediately.
2. Freezing cilantro cubes
Freezing is a great way to store cilantro for a much longer period. You’ll be able to preserve frozen cilantro leaves for a few months without it going bad.
Unlike many herbs, cilantro is easy to freeze. This time, make sure you wash the herb first before placing it in the freezer.
Here’s how to freeze cilantro:
- Wash cilantro sprigs in a colander under your sink by running the kitchen sink tap.
- Pat dry the coriander leaves to remove excess moisture.
- Pick the leaves and place them on a chopping board.
- Cut the fresh colander leaves into small pieces.
- Place the chopped leaves into ice cube trays.
- Add a little water, just barely covering the herbs.
- Place the tray with the cilantro into the freezer to freeze them till solid.
This storage method will keep cilantro fresh for at least 2 months. You can then use it for making soups and sauces.
Note: You can also use this method to freeze mint leaves for long term storage.
When you’re ready to use the frozen cilantro, pick one or two cubes from the freezer (depending on the need) and thaw it for use.
3. Can you dry cilantro for storage?
Dried cilantro will last the longest although it will not be fresh leaves. You can still use it to spice up your cooking because the flavor does not go away when the leaves dry.
All you need to do is wash the cilantro first, then pat dry the leaves using a paper towel. Cut off the stems and remain with the leaves only. From here, you can choose to air-dry the coriander leaves or pre-heat in an oven to remove any water from the leaves.
Once dry, place these leaves in an air-tight container and store it in your spice cabinet. This method will store cilantro for up to 1 year.
How long does fresh cilantro last?
Cilantro likes cool weather, so if you store it in such conditions, it will remain fresh for as long as 2 weeks. However, storing properly is key to making sure it does not go bad quickly, so you can choose between refrigeration and freezing as the best ways to keep it fresh for long.
Here’s a quick table showing how long cilantro will last depending on the method of storing.
(Best for short term storage. Keeps leaves fresh and green without losing flavor.)
|Up to 2 weeks|
Freezing as ice cubes will keep coriander fresh for long without losing flavor.
Drying will make the leaves lose some flavor, but they will still be great for flavoring food.
One problem you’ll quickly learn with cilantro leaves is that even in the fridge, they can quickly turn mushy when you store them in a plastic bag. You can, however, prevent this by keeping it with adequate moisture in the cool part of your refrigerator.
Get more kitchen hacks here.