Cilantro is also known as the Chinese parsley. Cilantro can be enjoyed raw, or be used to add flavor to several dishes. Cilantro is subtle and the flavor diminishes under heat, so most chefs or kitchen gurus use it as some sort of garnish instead.
In some parts of the world, people might refer to Cilantro, as Coriander. But, it is the seeds that are called coriander. Cilantro is a biennial crop, unfortunately, so it’s not always around. This means that when you get that bountiful harvest, you need to find a way to preserve it.
Can you freeze Cilantro? Yes, you can. Cilantro handles the cold very well and lasts for about 6 months in the freezer. However, cilantro is not a hardy herb, so the leaves are fragile and would need some sort of protection from the harsh conditions in your freezer.
If you are a big fan of Cilantro, you would know that it is tricky to grow and not so easy to preserve. As soon as you harvest cilantro, the flavor begins to fade on the hour. This is why cilantro is tagged as a finishing herb that should be used as a garnish. If it spends too long cooking, the flavor is all gone.
How to Freeze Cilantro
There are two ways to freeze Cilantro. Each method works fine but could differ a little bit in the outcome. Let’s dive right into it and figure out which method works best for you.
- Freezing Cilantro
- Freezing Cilantro into Ice Cubes
With this method, you don’t need much fuss. In five minutes you could be done and have your herb stored for the next 6 months. Cool right?
Step 1: Preparation
When dealing with herbs, you have to do some sort of preparation. Especially if you harvested them yourself. The first thing you need to do is to wash your herb. You need to be careful here, so you don’t break or bruise the leaves.
Wash the herbs under running water so you can get the sand and grit off the mix. Rinse the Cilantro more than once at least so you can get the debris you probably missed. Then, drain the herbs in a colander and leave it to air dry.
Step 2: Protecting the Cilantro
I mentioned earlier that cilantro leaves are very fragile, so here’s a tip on how you can protect them from the cold and prevent them from turning into mush.
Get some olive oil, and toss it on the cilantro leaves. Make sure each leaf is lightly coated in olive oil. You can use alternatives like avocado oil or vegetable oil but they might taste different.
Step 3: Storage
Get airtight freezer bags and put your oiled cilantro in them. Press the bags flat to expel air and shape the cilantro leaves into a single layer. Seal the bags and set them aside, ready to freeze.
Step 4: Freezing
Before you place the bags in the freezer to freeze, with a sharpie, label the bags stating the date of the freeze, and the contents of the bags. This will help you not to lose track of what you have stored and for how long.
Freezing Cilantro into Ice Cubes
If you have been buying cilantro from the store, you probably do not know what fresh cilantro tastes like. When freshly harvested, the flavor is much more vibrant, but with time it fades. Cilantro doesn’t do well when dried, so if you freeze it immediately after you dry it, you could catch some of that vibrant freshness.
Step 1: Preparation
We already went over this. Wash, rinse, and dry.
Step 2: Puree the Cilantro
In most recipes, you would probably need to chop the cilantro leaves before you can use them. So why not do it now. If you have a food processor, this process would be as easy as pressing a button. Put the leaves in your food processor and add a little bit of olive oil. Don’t pulse for too long, just give it a few pulses so it doesn’t become too smooth.
If you don’t have a food processor, get your chopping board, with a sharp knife, chop the cilantro coarsely.
Step 3: Freezing the Cilantro into Cubes
If you used a food processor, you would have some sort of paste but it would be smooth. Get your ice cube tray, and with a spoon, fill each cube to about ¾. The remaining space left is to account for the expansion that takes place as the cilantro freezes.
If you used the manual method, put the chopped leaves into the cubes and fill them with olive oil until the leaves are immersed in the oil. Don’t forget to leave about an inch of space to account for the expansion of the mixture.
Once you are done with all of that, place the ice cube tray into the freezer and wait till it freezes solid.
Step 4: Storage and Freezing
Once the cubes have frozen solid, bring them out of the freezer and transfer the cubes into airtight freezer bags. Expel air from the bags before you seal them and don’t forget to label the bags before you place them in the freezer to freeze.
How to Thaw Frozen Cilantro
Please note that when you thaw cilantro, it loses its firmness and crunchy feel. So it might not be suitable as a garnish. But will do very well to add flavor to baked goods or cooked dishes.
You can use frozen cilantro on its own, or leave it to thaw on the counter. Because of how fragile the leaves are, it doesn’t take time to thaw.
Frozen cilantro can be used in cilantro chutney or guacamole. That’s not all, there are several dishes and recipes that cilantro can grace.