Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tips for Storing Cilantro
First, you choose a fresh bunch of cilantro from the store. Make sure the leaves are nice and crisp. If the leaves are "sagging" in the store already, then they will not last as long at home. Place the cilantro in a short glass (what we consider a milk and cookies glass) with enough water to cover about 1 inch of the stems. Cover the "glass of cilantro" with a brown paper bag and store the it at the lower back portion of your refrigerator. But don't forget about it! You will need to change the water at least once a week for as long as you keep the cilantro.
To use the cilantro, take out whatever amount you need and wash in cold water. Hint: I always wait to wash the cilantro until right before I use it because it makes it easier to store. If you wash the cilantro before storing, you have to make sure the leaves are dry, or they stick together and begin to wilt sooner.
You can use the fresh cilantro in many different dishes or salads. I use mine for various Mexican dishes, arroz con pollo, pico de gallo, and in my fajitas. I have also just thrown it (cilantro finely chopped) in a skillet with chicken breasts, salt, and pepper.
If you know that you will not be using the entire bunch of cilantro within a reasonable amount of time, you can also freeze it. I have already discussed this briefly in another post, so if you have already read this - sorry for the repeat!
In order to freeze cilantro, all you have to do is wash the cilantro and drain it thoroughly. You can also pat it dry with a paper towel to get as much moisture off as possible. Cut off the thickest 1-2 inches of the stems depending upon how thick and tough your cilantro stems appear to be. Finely chop the remaining stems and leaves. Place in baggies and freeze. I store mine in 2 Tbsp. servings because that is the amount that I typically use in most recipes. I usually place each serving in a regular sandwich bag or a fold over bag. Then, I place all the single servings into a freezer bag to protect it from freezer burn. When you need cilantro, just pull out however much you need. However, one thing to note it that you only want to use the frozen cilantro in cooked dishes because it will have lost the crispness that most fresh cilantro dishes need. I have used frozen cilantro in making pico de gallo, but I prefer fresh.
Cilantro is a great herb that can be used in a variety of ways so give it a try!