How to Store and Use Extra Cilantro

Cilantro, the vibrant herb also known as “fresh coriander,” may be an essential ingredient in several cuisines around the globe, including Latin American, Middle Eastern, African, South Asian and Southeast Asian. But these recipes, including our very own Shakshuka and Linguine with Chorizo and Clams, don’t typically call for more than a small handful of roughly chopped leaves.

What’s a cook to do when there’s a huge bunch of cilantro leftover? Well, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our favorite hack to keep cilantro perky for as long as possible. And with that insider tip, you can explore  five creative ways to put the fresh, leafy herb to good use.

Storing cilantro

Stay fresh

To keep the cilantro (plus parsley and mint!) fresh for up to two weeks:

  • Trim the ends using scissors or a knife. This gets the water flowing into the herb.
  • Place the stems in a glass or jar filled with water.
  • Cover cilantro with a large plastic bag – use can the one you bagged it in at the store or a large Ziploc.
  • Seal around the glass with a rubber band. Refrigerate and use as needed!

How to Store and Use Extra Cilantro
How to Store and Use Extra Cilantro

Or freeze it!

If you can’t find the time to use up your extras, we recommend washing and chopping the cilantro, then storing it in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. You can store it up to two months in the freezer.

5 ways to use leftover cilantro

While you can browse our recipes by ingredient to help you use up any leftovers, we also love these basic ideas to use up that extra cilantro:

Agua fresca: Muddle cilantro, cucumber, and some seasonal fruit such as strawberry or watermelon. Strain the mixture using a fine-mesh strainer, add a little water to dilute, and you have a refreshing beverage that will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Pesto: Pesto isn’t just for basil and pine nuts. Change things up and make a cilantro pesto with any nuts you have on hand (we especially love it with pistachios). Blend cilantro, nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan (if you have it) in a food processor until smooth. Bonus points if you throw some unsweetened coconut flakes in there. Spread it on bread, toss with pasta or sauteed veggies, or put on top of meat or fish.

Salad dressing: Chop and stir it in with yogurt and honey for a tangy and refreshing dressing.

Green rice: Mix it into your rice while it’s cooking to add an extra dimension of flavor. Squeeze some lime juice before serving for a Chipotle-copycat.

Chimichurri: Substitute cilantro for parsley in this Argentinian green sauce. Finely chop the cilantro, mince some garlic, add dried oregano, a little vinegar, and olive oil. Stir it all together and you’ll have a flavorful sauce to top meat or dip bread in. This will keep in your fridge for about a month.


Do you have a favorite hack to use up extra cilantro or parsley? Share it in the comments!

Comments

  1. Coreen Montagna wrote:

    I’ve had huge success keeping cilantro (and flat leaf parsley) fresh for as many as 4 weeks by using this method for storing the kind of herb bunches you get at the grocery store, though I’m sure it would work for freshly cut ones as well:

    1) Untie or cut the rubber band holding the bundle together, then spread out the stems on the counter.

    2) Go through and remove any stems that don’t look great (ones starting to get brown or rotten, ones with mostly yellow leaves)

    3) Toss the remaining stems into a large bowl of water and let them hydrate for 10-15 minutes. This also helps remove any lingering dirt.

    4) Use a salad spinner to lightly remove most of the surface water. Don’t spin too hard as you don’t want to damage the fragile leaves. Leaves that get torn or creased don’t last as long.

    5) Take three connected paper towels (i.e., one extra-long towel) and fold it a bunch of times. Get it wet and gently wring out most of the water so you are left with a towel that is wet but doesn’t drip when held up.

    6) Lay the towel out on the counter so that the long side is facing you.

    7) Place the herb stems vertically, starting at one end of the towel. Try to keep the herbs in just one layer, though it’s okay if they are overlapping a little. I like to stagger them by placing a few with the leaves at the top and then a few with the leaves at the bottom, evening out the bulkiness. Make sure to leave at least a couple inches at the end empty so the roll will “seal.”

    8) Gently roll the towel up without compressing the contents. The resulting roll with be several inches thick and a bit floppy.

    9) Place the entire roll into a gallon-size zip bag (or, if you have them, the 1/2 gallon marinade bags from Ziploc are perfect for this). Leave the bag open and place the entire thing in the fridge, making sure that the bag position allows air to circulate throughout (e.g., make sure that the plastic isn’t folded up, defeating the purpose of leaving the bag un-zipped).

    10) When you want to use some, gently remove the roll from the bag and unroll just enough to remove however much you need to use at that time. Re-roll and place bag in bag and fridge. If you discover the towel has dried out, re-moisten with water. If you notice any rotting herb leaves or stems, remove them before it can spread.

    The process seems complicated when written out like this, but it actually only takes a few minutes to do this. I’ve had parsley last over 4 weeks and cilantro over 3 weeks with this method. I currently have cilantro and parsley rolls in my fridge that I bought 2 weeks ago. I just used some of the cilantro last night, and most of it was still looking perfectly fresh (I picked out and tossed about a quarter of it that was starting to get yellow/brown/black). It’s a more compact method versus the vase-method, and this way do don’t need to worry about tipping it over and getting water everywhere.

    Posted on 12.14.16 | Reply
    • Wow! This is pretty amazing. We totally love this method as well. Thanks for sharing!

      Posted on 12.15.16 | Reply
      • Coreen Montagna wrote:

        FYI, I just tossed these today because I bought new bunches. Of what was still left over, about 75% of the parsley was still in perfect shape, another 10% was usable but limp and 15% was no good. For the cilantro, about 50% was no good, 25% was usable but limp, and about 25% was still in perfect shape.

        Posted on 12.26.16 | Reply
        • Cynthia Samanian wrote:

          Wow. That’s incredible, Coreen! Thanks so much for sharing your tips.

          Posted on 1.4.17 | Reply

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