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How to Save Fresh Cilantro

What to do with your leftover cilantro

If you celebrated Cinco de Mayo by cooking dishes (like this one) over the weekend, you likely used fresh cilantro. If you’ve ever cooked with fresh cilantro before you’ve likely experienced the frustration that comes with its tendency to spoil quickly. Most of us buy cilantro from the store in a large bunch, chop off what we need and then reach into the fridge a few short days later to find it looking quite lifeless.

The good news is there is a way to extend its life and reduce food waste! Next time, consider blanching your fresh cilantro. For those unfamiliar with the term, “blanching” means to whiten and is a basic cooking technique that allows us to enhance the color of food, prepare vegetables for freezing, soften them, and prepare ingredients ahead of time.

How does blanching work?

Blanching kills off the decomposing enzymes in cilantro without cooking out its fresh taste, all the while preserving its vibrant green color. This way, your cilantro will stay in great shape for weeks. Let’s learn how to blanch today so the next time you buy cilantro, you can see the magic for yourself!


To blanch fresh cilantro/coriander, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a big bowl of ice water ready.

Once the water is boiling, dip your bunch of cilantro into it just until it wilts. This shouldn’t take more than a few seconds. You don’t want to cook out the flavor of the herb, just kill off those decomposing enzymes.

As soon as the cilantro has wilted, immediately transfer it to the ice water. This eliminates the residual heat that would otherwise continue to cook it.

Pat the blanched cilantro dry.

Strip the leaves off the stems and transfer to freezer bags and freeze.

  •    Tip: spread the leaves thinly in the bags and store flat. This will enable you to break off just what you need when you want to use some – but not all — of a bag of frozen herbs.

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