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How to Use Cilantro and Keep It Fresh

Updated on April 24, 2013
Fresh cilantro can be placed in water, covered with a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator.
Fresh cilantro can be placed in water, covered with a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator. | Source

What is Cilantro?

Cilantro is a large leafed green herb. It is used primarily in Mexican, Indian and Asian cooking. The seed of cilantro is coriander, but the seed and the herb have very different tastes and purposes. Cilantro is aromatic, pungent and has a unique flavor that can augment just about any dish!

Health Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro is an excellent source of nutrients. It contains:

  • antioxidents;
  • calcium;
  • potassium;
  • Vitamins K, A and C;
  • folate; and
  • beta carotene.

Cilantro can relieve abdominal discomfort caused by diarrhea and heartburn. It can prevent gas, abdominal cramps and nausea.

How to Keep Cilantro Fresh

Keep cilantro fresh by buying the freshest bunch that you can find. The leaves should not be wilted or brown. As soon as you get it home, wash the cilantro under cool running water. Shake it dry and pat gently with a paper towel. Holding the stems tightly, place the bundle of cilantro on a cutting board and cut the bottoms of the stems off straight across. Fill a jar or glass with water. Place cut cilantro stems in the water. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag, and place the glass of cilantro in the refrigerator. Your cilantro will keep for up to 2 full weeks this way!

Did You Know?

Cilantro:

  • originated in southern Europe and the western Mediterranean
  • Is one of the oldest herbs mentioned in history
  • stimulates appetite
  • aids in digestion
  • is known as Mexican or Chinese Parsley

How to Prepare Chopped Cilantro

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cut cilantro in small rows from the top of the leaves.  Cut all the way down to the thick part of the stems.Discard the large stem pieces.Cut cilantro again at a 90 degree angle from last cut.
Cut cilantro in small rows from the top of the leaves.
Cut cilantro in small rows from the top of the leaves. | Source
Cut all the way down to the thick part of the stems.
Cut all the way down to the thick part of the stems. | Source
Discard the large stem pieces.
Discard the large stem pieces. | Source
Cut cilantro again at a 90 degree angle from last cut.
Cut cilantro again at a 90 degree angle from last cut. | Source

How to Prepare Cilantro for Cooking

When I use cilantro in cooking I use the tops of the bunch, including the stems. If I am making a hot dish or using a food processor to make salsa, I may use more of the thick stem as well as the leaves. If I am using the cilantro as a topper or with minimal cooking time, I use only the tops with the small stems and cut the large thick stem off.

Probably the best way to prepare cilantro for cooking is to gently pluck the leaves from the stems and tear them. This is a great way to do it, but is time consuming. I use a more practical approach.

I simply place the cilantro in a bunch onto my cutting board and cut from the top of the leaves down to the thick part of the stem. I cut in small rows (1/8-1/4 inch) from the top down to the stem. This creates lots of small pieces of cilantro leaves. Once I have cut down to the thick part of the stems, I discard the thick stems. Then, I cut the cilantro pieces in small rows at a 90 degree angle of where I had cut before. Cutting the cilantro twice is enough to release the wonderful aroma and flavor of the herb. Be careful not too cut it too much as the leaves are delicate and can almost turn to a paste.


What is Your Favorite Way to Use Cilantro?

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How to Use Fresh Cilantro

Anyone who has bought cilantro to use in a recipe has struggled with the question of what to do with what's leftover. While the herb is very tasty and aromatic, we have no idea of what to do with the rest. And so, it wilts, and we throw it out.

Here are some quick, no-nonsense ideas of how to use up fresh cilantro. The more I use it, the more I tend to add it to just about anything for a great touch of flavor. Get creative! When in doubt, add fresh cilantro!

Consider using fresh cilantro:

  • as a topper for tacos;
  • in salsa of any type;
  • in cooking beans or lentils;
  • mixed in salad;
  • in your favorite soups and stews;
  • in sandwiches;
  • in pasta with a little butter, garlic and lemon juice;
  • in guacamole;
  • in poultry marinade;
  • in casseroles;
  • scrambled into eggs with sauteed onions and fresh spinach leaves.

The more you use cilantro, the more you will find it can be easily added to a wide variety of dishes and will only compliment the flavor. Before you know it, you will be using cilantro regularly and adding to your food all of the flavor and health benefits it provides. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite way of using cilantro? I would love to hear about it! Please share it in the comments below!

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    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Millionaire Tips, I share your love of cilantro. I store my cilantro on the top shelf of my refrigerator to minimize my risk of knocking it over. It hasn't happened yet! Thanks for the vote up!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      I really love cilantro, and use it whenever I can - with scrambled eggs, salsa, Indian curries, salads and sandwiches. I do keep cilantro in a glass, but I do have to be careful that I don't accidentally bump the glass and spill water all over the refrigerator. I didn't know about the health benefits or that it could be used in Chinese cooking. Voted up.

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      rebeccamealey, thanks for reading and sharing!

      Careermommy, glad you learned about the health benefits!

      dipsmi, I know you will love how fresh your cilantro stays when stored this way!

    • dipsmi profile image

      dipsmi 4 years ago from Plymouth, Minnisota

      Cilantro is an essential item in my household but it doesn't remains fresh for a long time. I am definitely going to try this tip.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub kansasyarn. I never realized that cilantro had such great health benefits. That makes me like it every more!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I am trying to sprout cilantro seeds as we speak. No luck. Oh well, it is cheap at the market, and thanks for the great cilantro tips! I vote useful and will share!

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Riviera Rose, I love cilantro, too! You will find it really lasts a long time when stored this way. Enjoy!

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 4 years ago from South of France

      I adore cilantro (or coriander, as we Brits call it!) but it does go mushy very quickly. This is a great idea, and one I'll try next time I have a bunch. Thank you!

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      I love cilantro, too! Glad you found it useful!

    • profile image

      anndango 4 years ago

      I love cilantro and I love your idea of how to keep it fresh. Great hub. Voted up.