Mar 23 2005
The trouble with cilantro is that you either have none at all, or you have too much.
You buy a bundle at the market and it wilts within a few days. It’s not like Italian parsley, which will stay green and alert for a week or more in a pot of water placed in a sunny window. So what do you do when your $1.29 buys you more cilantro than you’ll normally use in two months — but you have only two or three days in which to use it?
That’s right. Freeze it. But don’t just throw it in the freezer — it will turn brown and icky in no time. Instead, follow these directions:
(1) Wash the cilantro in cold water, as follows:
(a) Fill a really big bowl or pot with really cold water. Grab the whole bunch of cilantro by the stems, like a bouquet of flowers, and plunge the leaves into the water. Swish it vigorously. Plunge it in and out. Shake it all about. Swish, swish, swish!
(b) Remove from the water and give it a few good shakes over the sink to shake off the excess water. Plop it down on a towel and spread it out. Blot dry the really wet spots.
(c) Now that it’s washed, remove the limp, yellowed, or icky bits. You have more than you’ll ever use, so just keep the good stuff. You’ll probably throw away 25% of the bunch. Get over it.
(2) Set aside the cilantro you plan to use right away. (Wrap it and put it in the fridge, or put it stem-down in a jar of fresh water and place it in a sunny spot.)
(3) With the remaining, tear the leaves from the stems and roughly chop them. Cram a spoonful of leaves into each of the molds of an ice cube tray. Cover with water, and freeze.
(4) When frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and put them into a zip-lock bag. Squeeze out the air and store in the freezer.
You now have instant access to green, crisp, sorta-fresh cilantro, whenever you want. It’s not great for garnishes, but it’s just fine for most recipes, including guacamole, soups, and any sauce that calls for fresh cilantro.
Note: cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, but they are not the same thing — although the words are often used interchangeably. "Cilantro" refers to the herb — the green leafy bits. "Coriander" refers the spice — the roots and seeds, which are usually dried.
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