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Learn how to keep cilantro fresh and crisp in the fridge so you can enjoy cilantro for up to 3 whole weeks! You can use this same system for storing other herbs and leafy vegetables too!
This post was originally published Jan 2014, but has since been updated and new photos added.
If you’re like me, you love any kind of Mexican cuisine, especially homemade guacamole and Salsa! Or maybe you like making your own dressings or marinades! You can’t have any of those without fresh cilantro. Unfortunately cilantro is such a sensitive herb that I haven’t perfected growing yet, so we typically buy it at the store. However, cilantro can go bad really quickly if you don’t take a little bit of time and prep to make sure you learn how to store cilantro correctly to keep it from wilting or going bad.
How to Keep Cilantro Fresh in the Fridge
So what is the best way to keep cilantro fresh? I have experimented with a few different methods, such as keeping it in a jar with a small amount of water in the bottom for the stems to drink up. While that method does work OK, the leaves still wilt quickly. Maybe a week at the most.
I’ve also tried storing fresh cilantro in the refrigerator by rolling up the bunch in a paper towel and then putting that in a plastic ziploc bag. That storage method for cilantro works pretty well, making the cilantro good for about a week and a half. However, the method that I’ve found that works the BEST for storing cilantro is to keep it in an airtight container lined with paper towels.
What Do I Need to Store Fresh Cilantro
Good news! You don’t need anything fancy to keep cilantro fresh for up to 3 weeks with this simple method. Here is a list of what you need to store cilantro in the fridge.
- Plastic or glass container with a lid
- Paper towels
- Kitchen scissors or knife
Optional “fancy” equipment
- Produce storage container–I use these for everything from keeping berries longer to storing spinach
- Salad Spinner–this comes in handy for washing leafy greens and getting the excess water off.
How to Clean Cilantro for Storage
The first step to keeping cilantro fresh is to make sure you wash the leaves really well when you get home from the store or harvest from the garden. Wash the leaves well in cold water, with a splash of vinegar. The easiest way is to fill up the kitchen sink and let the bunch of cilantro sit in it for a few minutes. Make sure the water is COLD.
Swirl the cilantro around a few times, and then remove the cilantro from the water. Let it dry for a few minutes on a towel, or give it a spin in a salad spinner to dry off.
This next step is crucial to successfully storing cilantro so that it stays fresh! Comb through all of the cilantro looking for any leaves that show a sign of wilt, yellowing, or rot. Discard those pieces. You can see an example of one below.
This step is super important, so please do not skip it. If you put in any of these bad cilantro leaves with fresh cilantro, rot will set in way sooner than if you discard them. Usually, I’ll only have a few that are like the pictures.
After you’ve sifted through all of the leaves, it’s time to dry them the rest of the way. The easiest way to dry the cilantro leaves is to use a Salad Spinner. You could also use paper towels to blot them dry but I don’t like wasting paper towels. I use our salad spinner for all of our leafy greens! The goal is to get the cilantro as dry as possible!
After the cilantro is completely dry, line a glass or plastic container with 2 paper towels. Make sure the container you choose fits the cilantro. You could trim up the stems a bit to make it all fit without “smooshing” the cilantro. The container also needs a lid.
If you are feeling fancy, these produce keeper containers with a strainer are a great investment for food storage. I use this set all of the time to store berries, lettuce, cilantro, and other fresh produce. I love that they have a vent to control the moisture.
Finally, place another paper towel on top of the cilantro. Place the lid to the container back on and store fresh cilantro in your fridge for 3-4 weeks.
Why does this method keep cilantro fresh and crisp?
The reason for the paper towels is to keep the cilantro in a moist environment, without having water on the leaves themselves. If the leaves are left with water on them, they will wilt and rot quickly. The paper towels will absorb any extra liquid from the leaves, and keep the container moist. This is true of most leafy greens and you can use the same method to keep fresh herbs in the fridge longer too.
Tips for storing cilantro
To keep cilantro fresh in the fridge, it’s essential to start with clean and dry leaves. Excess moisture can lead to wilting and spoilage, so ensure the cilantro is thoroughly dry before storage.
After about 1 week you will need to change out the paper towels to keep the remaining cilantro as fresh as when you brought it home. If you see any leaves start to turn brown, remove them as quickly as possible.
By following these tips on storing cilantro, you can extend its shelf life and keep it fresh for use in your delicious culinary creations.
More Household tips you may find helpful:
- How to Keep Spinach Fresh Longer
- Recipes Using Fresh Garden Produce
- How to Save Money on Produce
- Tips for Stretching Meat Further
check out the web story for this post too!
How to Store Cilantro
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- sink or container full of COLD water
- Thoroughly wash the cilantro leaves in COLD water
- Sort through the leaves for any brown, yellow, wilty or rotting leaves and stems. Discard those
- Place cilantro in a salad spinner and dry thoroughly. If no salad spinner, pat dry with paper towels.
- Line a container with paper towels. If using a produce keeper with colander skip this step
- Place the dry cilantro into the container. Place another paper towel on top
- Secure the lid to the container and place in the fridge.