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How do you keep cilantro fresh?

  • k

We bought a bunch of cilantro at the farmer's market this morning, put it in a glass of water, and left to run errands. When we got home, it had flopped. Any tips you can offer on how to keep it would help. We can't grow it because of too many squirrels around.

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  1. Remember to snip the ends of the stems before you put the bunch in water.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I clip the stems, put it in a glass of water in the fridge, and put a plastic bag loosely over the whole bouquet and glass...lasts 2 weeks.

      1. re: galleygirl

        I am no model of keeping cilantro - but it helps to keep it dry - if the leaves are wet they start to rot - remove all disintegrating leaves promptly - and if you bought it on its roots, keep it on the roots, dont remove them.

    2. While I store most herbs the way you do - in a glass of water, I don't do that with cilantro. Mostly because my grandmother always did it differently.

      I rinse it when I get it home, and dry it (through a salad spinner, or on paper towels). Lay out dry paper towels, wrap the cilantro, and put it into a ziploc & in the fridge.

      IME, it stays fresh this way.

      1. And put the cilantro in the jar of water in the refrigerator. Also works for us with parsley. Good luck! P.S. Squirrels don't eat either our basil, sage or parsley - maybe you could give one of them a try for some fresh herbs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Donna - MI

          It isn't that they eat it -- they dig holes in the soil to bury the peanuts our neighbors give them.

        2. d
          David Hammmond

          So, your cilantro flopped? Is that really a problem? I mean, the flavor is still there, right. And you probably are going to cook it in something, in which case it will totally sag. Even in a salad, it mixes in and still retains flavor. Why is it important to put it in water? I don't put parsley in water -- but maybe I should. I guess I'd like to know if I should. Guidance, anyone...

          2 Replies
          1. re: David Hammmond

            I handle it the same way I do cilantro...Even if it flops, if you clip the ends, and put it in water, it perks up again. Put on the plastic bag, and it stays that way...Nicer texture and flavor if you like to use it uncooked.

            1. re: David Hammmond

              hey dave,

              once cilantro flops it starts to rot very quickly - so you do need to do everything you can to keep it in the "unflopped" stage.

              and generally in most cuisines that use a lot of it, folks don't cook the cilantro - it's usually put on top of the dish or mixed in at the very end uncooked.

            2. to keep parsley fresh I lay it out till it completely dries and then I wrap it in paper towels (not plastic), and put it in the vegetable draw and it stays fresh for quite awhile. Parsley and cilantro are similar in appearance, so I am thinking it will work just the same.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sourpatch

                Actually, parsley seems to be FAR less delicate than cilantro. I have some that's been there three weeks and hasn't flopped yet. Just in a glass of water in the frig. I change the water when I think of it....

              2. Once I have it home, I rinse the whole bunch well in cold water then set it upside down in the dish drainer for an hour or so to drain. Then I remove the band holding the bunch together, cut off the lower part of the bunch (the band tends to bruise the leaves/stems and they rot more easily). In a plastic bag, lay a paper towel folded into quarters. Place the cilantro bunch on top of this, leafy parts over the paper towel. Fasten bag - into frig - keeps until I've used it all up......course I use a lot of it. Ever try it in a sandwich instead of lettuce? Yum!

                1. This thread has more posts than the more current one dealing with "how to store herbs", so I will continue on here about cilantro.

                  Some posters say they freeze it. I can't imagine it thawing into the same state it was, fresh. If it is to be used to flavor a soup or a sauce, then I can understand the usefulness of this storing method. But if you want it to resemble the original fresh green leaf, does freezing really not change its state/texture?

                  I looked for suggestions on storing it. I have been storing the bunch, with cut stems, in a small bowl, filled with a little bit of water, covered with a plastic bag. Didn't know whether to seal the bag or not, but moisture tends to build up, and it seemed that keeping some air circulating reduced the moisture buildup. Adding a paper towel at times to absorb the moisture tended to extend the life of the herb.

                  I was concerned that if I kept the plastic bag open, that the smell of cilantro might get infused in other foods being stored in the refrigerator.

                  I have started using cilantro to flavor chicken broth and lentil soup, and now I can't live without it. I had tried parsley, but the two have different flavors, and adding cilantro to the two aforementioned soups gives me the illusion that I am eating at an Indian restaurant.

                  Either way, both greens are healthy, and adding them to soups, allows one to get more greens in their diet. Otherwise, I would rarely be eating such greens.

                  If you are able to keep the cilantro in the refrigerator in a fresh state for one to two weeks, should the water in the bowl/glass be changed, and if so, how often? I normally don't change it at all. By the end of the life of the cilantro, I wind up with green water.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                    After you are done with the cilantro leaves, I would suggest using the stems, finely chopped, to flavor egg (or whatever) salad. Same thing could be said for parsley stems, depending upon your tastes.

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      And save the roots! Wash the sand out of them and keep them in a little ziploc bag for as long as 2 or 3 weeks. Mince them and saute them along with minced garlic for chili, soup, or stew.

                  2. I try to use it right away, but I also freeze it in ice cubes.
                    You can try that with any fresh herb. The cubes make it easy to add to almost any dish, except salad.

                    1. The best way to use fresh herbs is FRESH. Cilantro really isn't at its best after a few days anyway.

                      You could always make a pesto out of it and that'd last for a while.


                      1. I second the "pesto" suggestion, but I'm usually using parsley rather than cilantro. I use what I need from the bunch and drop the rest in to the Cuisinart with a bit of olive oil. I freeze the puree and add it to the next soup or pasta sauce. I probably don't keep it in the freezer for very long, but it seems to have almost the same result in soups and sauces as fresh, and it's very, very easy.

                        1. If you have a sunny window consider buying seeds or a small starter plant. Clip as you need and you should be able to maintain a handy herb plant for some time.

                          1. When it gets past the freshness tipping point, I grind it up in my mini food processor -- often with garlic, too -- and freeze in 1T dollops in Glad PressnSeal and ziplocks. They take up less space that way versus the ice cube method. I freeze a lot of leftover odds and ends (wine, cheese rinds, herbs, veggie peelings, etc) so space becomes a consideration.

                            Frozen herbs are not suitable as subs for fresh ones where the appearance and texture matters, but doing it this way is great for salsas, beans, stews, etc, when you don't have fresh around.

                            1. As per Alton Brown, I wrap the bunch in moist paper towel then wrap that in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. Usually keeps for a week, sometimes more.