If you love cilantro, you know that it can be a challenge to keep it fresh. The best way to store fresh cilantro is in the fridge, but that can also be a challenge unless done properly. This post has all the deets on how to store cilantro to keep it fresh, how best to store it in the fridge and how to store it for the long term.
How to keep cilantro fresh
Cilantro can be a tricky herb to grow, as it has a tendency to bolt to seed. If this happens, a good approach is to harvest the lot at the first sign of flowering, before the leaves lose their flavor.
It can also be tricky to keep cilantro fresh once it has been harvested. Read on for the details on how to properly store cilantro to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
We also cover a few options for storing cilantro for the longer term. It won’t be quite as tasty as cilantro fresh from the garden, but are good to keep this herb to use after the growing season has ended.
Scroll down for the printable instruction card on how to store cilantro, or read on for all the details.
How to store fresh cilantro
Use the freshest cilantro
Use the freshest cilantro possible. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of cilantro you can from the grocery store or farmers market.
If harvesting your own, cut the cilantro stems off close to the ground, starting with stems at the outside of the plant.
>>For more details see this post: How to harvest cilantro.
Prepare cilantro for storage
To prepare the cilantro for storage, remove any wilted or dead leaves from your bunch of cilantro.
Then wash the cut cilantro under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt, and spin dry in a salad spinner or gently pat dry on paper towels. It is important to get the leaves dry, as they will not last long if they have water on them.
How to store cilantro in the fridge
The best way to keep cilantro fresh is to store it in the fridge. The aim is to create a damp environment to slow the loss of water from the leaves, but without the leaves becoming wet, as this will encourage them to turn slimy and unuseable.
There are two basic approaches:
1. Stand in water
The best way to store cilantro in the fridge is to stand it in water.
It’s very simple! Trim the ends, then stand the cut stems in a glass or jar of cool water just like you would with fresh flowers. Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean. Change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.
Alternatively, you can store the fresh cilantro in large mason jars and cover it with the lid. This is a great approach if you are wondering how to store cilantro without plastic.
Another approach is to get yourself a herb saver*, which is a purpose-made jar for keeping fresh herbs fresh. These are designed to fit in the fridge door of most standard-sized refrigerators.
2. Store between damp paper towels
Another good way to keep cilantro fresh in the fridge is to store it between layers of damp paper towels.
Place the cilantro sprigs in the refrigerator between two damp paper towels either in an air tight container or a ziplock bag.
You want the paper towels to be damp rather than fully saturated. I like to spray the paper towels with water rather than sticking them under the tap as it is easier to control the amount of water you apply.
Store the container in the crisper draw of your refrigerator.
Check the cilantro every couple of days and replace the paper towels as needed.
How long to store cilantro in the refrigerator
Fresh cilantro will keep for around 2 weeks if stored correctly in the refrigerator.
You will know it is time to throw it out when the leaves start to yellow and turn slimy.
Remove any leaves or stems that start to show these signs, rinse the rest of the bunch, trim the ends, and replace the water or paper towels. This should help the remaining cilantro to last longer.
How to store chopped cilantro
Chopped cilantro can be stored in oil for a few days. Place the chopped cilantro in a small container and cover with olive oil.
It also freezes well. See section below for more details.
How to store cilantro long term
If you want to store fresh cilantro for longer than 2 weeks you have a few options. The best option to choose will depend on how you want to use the cilantro.
How to store cilantro in the freezer
If you want to store it for a longer time then try freezing the cilantro.
To freeze cilantro, first, wash it and pat dry, then roughly chop as you would if using it in a recipe.
Finally, place the chopped cilantro in an ice-cube tray, cover with olive oil or water and freeze. Then you can pop out a cilantro cube as needed and add it to your recipe. The cilantro should last for 3 months stored this way.
This is a great way to store fresh cilantro to flavor soups or sauces.
How to dry cilantro
Alternatively, cilantro is very easy to dry. The flavor won’t be preserved quite as well as using one of the methods above, but this is a convenient way to store it for the long term. Dried cilantro should last for up to a year if dried and stored correctly.
>>Check out my article on How to dry cilantro for more details.
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro [Note 1]
- A large jar or drinking glass and a lid or plastic bag OR
- An air-tight container and paper towels
First, prepare the cilantro
- Remove any wilted or dead leaves from your bunch of cilantro.
- Wash the cut cilantro under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt
- Dry using a salad spinner or gently pat dry on paper towels.
Method 1: Stand in water
- Trim the ends of the cilantro (unless freshly harvested), then stand the cut stems in a glass or jar of cool water.
- Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean.
- Store the jar in the refrigerator.
- Change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.
Method 2: Store in paper towels
- Line an air tight container (or ziplock bag) with damp paper towels.
- Place the cilantro into the container and place another damp paper towel on top.
- Seal the container and store it in the crisper draw of your refrigerator.
- Check the cilantro every couple of days and replace the paper towels as needed.
Fresh cilantro should keep for around 3 weeks if stored using one of these methods [Note 2].
- Use the freshest cilantro possible. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of cilantro you can from the grocery store or farmers market.
- You will know it is time to throw it out when the cilantro starts to turn pale or slimy, or if the stems start showing signs of sliminess or mold.