Cilantro-Tips and Facts You Should Know
For years, whenever I made salsa, or any other dish calling for cilantro, I never added it. I kept telling my husband (who simply loves the stuff) that it tasted like soap. Ick.
Well, I was at a church gathering once where an amazing homemade salsa was served that was pretty heavy on the cilantro--
And I was hooked :-).
I came home wanting to add it to my next batch of salsa, but I just couldn't bear to:
- spend money on it
- use just the leaves and....
- have the rest of it go to waste.
Well, I did some research and now I have some great tips to share about how to use and store cilantro so that you can make great salsas and bean dips without breaking the bank (or just adding more fuel to your compost :-).)
Cilantro Tips - How to Use and Store Cilantro
1. You Can Use the Whole Plant!
- Did you know that you can use not just the leaves, but also the stems? That's right - you can! So stop throwing away or composting those cilantro stems and just add them to your favorite dishes along with the leaves! Get more bang out of your food budget!
2. How to Store Cilantro
Store what you will use quickly in the refrigerator upright in a glass container so that the stems are resting in some water.
- Whatever you cannot use right away, just chop into small pieces, store in a small plastic bag, and freeze. This will not only save money, but the next time you need cilantro, it will be ready and pre-chopped for you so your prep will be already done.
- I purchase my small plastic bags in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods (I use the small 4 x 2 x 8 size for cilantro) and I swear by Twixit Clips for bag-sealing of all kinds all around the house. Bonus--you can get a big discount at Country Life using code WHOLENEWMOM too - and they have all kinds of great things there.
- Frozen cilantro separates fairly easily--even frozen chunks chop up easily using a good knife on a cutting board.
You can see more about my other nifty storage techniques in these posts:
- How to Freeze Cucumbers
- How to Freeze Tomatoes
- How to Store Prepared Beans
- How to Store Nuts and Seeds
3. Dried Cilantro Just Doesn't Cut It
- Dried cilantro just doesn't have the "oomph" needed for great dishes. You can try it and see if you want to, but believe me, it just isn't worth it. Better to use your money on something else and just use the fresh herb for cooking.
4. Cilantro vs Coriander
Did you know coriander is another name for cilantro? Well, now you do! So if you want to have your own fresh cilantro, just plant some coriander seeds and start your own herb garden!
Cilantro is the Spanish name for this plant, but since cilantro became popular in the U.S. through Latin American cuisine, the Spanish name (cilantro) is often used here.
5. Cilantro--the Heavy Metal Magnet
Did you know that cilantro is supposed to be natural metal detoxifier? Yes, that's the truth.
This might be the most truly helpful of all the cilantro facts you will ever know.
Several years ago, I didn't know anything about metals and the real concern that they can be. Think of it this way--heavy metals are everywhere (think about the lead issue in the water in Flint, MI). Let's just say that eating a little (or a lot) of cilantro now and then might be a good thing but don't overdo it and speak with your physician if you have any concerns.
Do keep in mind that studies vary on the effectiveness of cilantro on heavy metals. (source)
You can read more about heavy metal toxicity and zeolite as well.
6. Why Cilantro Tastes Like Soap for Some
You likely have heard about how some people just truly can't stand the taste of cilantro, thinking it tastes like soap.
Did you know that that is due to a genetic issue? A 2012 study found that this taste phenomenon is due to the aldehydes in cilantro. People who dislike cilantro have a genetic variant on an olfactory (related to smell) receptor gene that that causes them to be super sensitive to aldehydes.
Ways to Use Cilantro
There are SO many ways to use cilantro, but one of our family's favorite recipes of all time is this Fast and Yummy Bean Dip. Just throw some of your fresh or frozen cilantro in with the rest of the ingredients and you have a great summer dish that won't heat up your kitchen!
Other Whole Foodie Kitchen Tips:
- How to De-Gas Beans - great "stop the tooting" tips
- How to Freeze and Store Berries
- The Easiest Way to Peel Garlic
- How to Freeze Tomatoes--no peeling and no blanching!
Which of these Cilantro Tips is the most helpful for you?
I’ve actually started to grow hair on my head again and I kept wondering why. Then I remembered I had started to add cilantro to my soups and sauces. Looked it up and people actually make a paste and put it on their head! I just eat it and I don’t have a full head of hair but still pretty amazing.
My friend had serious skin sepsis from something that bit him in the ocean. The doctor gave him antibiotics and told him to add cilantro to his diet as a natural antibiotic.
I think it’s a miracle plant and sometimes I just eat it like a horse in the pasture. ? So yummy!!
No kidding--very interesting! Are you still pleased with the results? Sorry I didn't respond sooner--we lost the comments for the blog but just recovered them recently.
I would love to read this but there is an american family insurance ad blocking the text.
I'm so sorry - did you try refreshing the page? Are you on mobile or desktop? I will do whatever I can to help you. Thanks!
Thanks for this article...I sometimes used some of the smaller stems but now will use all the stems. I didn't think about freezing it but will now do. I use it in my pico de gallo salsa but also add it to my morning shake.
You are so welcome. I so need to buy some soon!
Never tell people you can just eat the stems. If they are RAW and cut in BITE-SIZE pieces, you can choke on them. I know because I did. They are fine to eat COOKED though, OR if eaten raw make sure they are finely diced so they are too small to choke on. A better use is to throw them in your stock bucket in the freezer along with your carrot, celery, onion, & garlic end pieces and use when you make homemade stock. They add great flavor. ALSO, I can think of one fantastic reason to use dried cilantro. Yes, it loses its flavor, but it removes fluoride from water, so put some in your water filter (I use ZeroWater). I put about a tablespoon in a coffee filter, tie with a twist tie, and add it to the top part of the filter. Just don't forget to toss it at the end of the day. You don't want it to get moldy.
I meant to chop and use them in a dish like salsa. But of course, anything can be choked on if it's the wrong size. So if it removes the Fl, aren't you eating it then? Better to get a real filter I would think. Thanks!
I love avocados.. found a DELICIOUS recipe for strawberry -avocado salsa..Butch's strawberry-avocado SALSA
Sounds great! Thanks!
So you pretty much just said " Never tell people they should eat cilantro Raw and chopped because you can choke, but u can eat them raw and cut into bite size pieces" yup sounds the same..raw n chopped.
Adrienne, it doesn't sound like you use coriander for cooking. When my cilantro goes to seed I harvest the seeds and grind them in my Vitamix machine. Coriander tastes lemony and is a great addition to soups and salsa. It really makes a difference.
We LOVE coriander. Check out this post on our favorite Spice Mix.
To freeze cilantro, as well as many other herbs, I like to chop it up and put it in ice cube trays with a little water to make "herb cubes." These are great for tossing into chili, sauces, scrambled eggs (melt in pan before adding eggs), and my favorite Mexi style side, cilantro lime rice!
I've done that too! I have some really "hot" cubes of jalapeno, onion, and ginger that I put in everything right now!
just remember, the cilantro must bolt and go to seed to get the Coriander SEEDS. but you get to use fresh cilantro in the meantime.
Great post! Just a note on growing cilantro from coriander seeds. You need to make sure your coriander is not irradiated or it will not sprout. Most spices are irradiated unless specifically labeled "non-irradiated". I just bought seeds from Seed Savers and the cilantro did awesome in my garden up until midsummer when the intense KY heat made it bolt.
I'd heard that - thanks! I only buy non-irradiated spices now :-)!
I found this through a Facebook friend's post. I love it! We grow cilantro, and use it a lot. I didn't know that coriander was the same - but I did know that it's much better fresh. Thanks for the tips on freezing, another thing I didn't know.
You're welcome! Thanks for your kind words! Hope to see you around again!
Glad that you made a whole post for cilantro, and mentioned the metal detox element!
We grow it up here in AK but I can't get it to go to seed because the summers are too cool.
One other storage tip that my grandmother in Israel uses, that works really well for parsley and cilantro, is to wrap the sprigs in paper towels and keep in the fridge in a sealed plastic container--I've been surprised how long it keeps like that.
Nice tip, Ela!
I also find adding a piece of paper towel to the bag/container works well - especially if I've already chopped it up for using later. Keeps it from going slimy so quickly! Or if I have the plastic produce bag from the store, I put it in the bag and tie it tight with as much air inside as possible (like a balloon). It seems to like the space to breathe. I've unfortunately never had luck with the stems-in-water trick.
Cilantro likes the cooler weather of spring and fall here in Western Oregon. I have been pleased with its growth, even having some make it through the cold days of winter. When exposed to warmer days, even if already established, it will rapidly go to seed (coriander seed!) I can assume that it will not germinate in warm soil. It is worth the trouble for sure.
I've heard that about cilantro. I've never grown it but would love to. I do not have a green thumb but maybe I'll try this year. Maybe I should find out and try now while we aren't doing other gardening.
We love cilantro! Glad to know the tip about freezing it!
I grow it, but it can become a pest and absolutely take over the garden! I'll turn over our (what appears to be empty except for dirt) garden box in the spring, and not too long after, lo and behold, I've got cilantro coming up all over it! It drops seeds late summer, and they sure seem to be hardy!
Just found your website (from Money Saving Mom--your rice milk recipe!) and am enjoying it! Looking forward to perusing further and gleaning information! Thank you for your time in putting down what you know so others can benefit!
Jill, thank YOU for a great tip. I haven't grown cilantro yet. We are working on our garden year after year, but we don't have green thumbs. Nice to know that there is something else "fool proof" that we can add to the mix! You are welcome. It's so nice to get encouragement. You brought a bright spot to my day.
This is awesome! I love pico and it always makes me sad that the cilantro always goes bad before i can make it twice
We use cilantro in so many things around here. I had no idea that you could simply freeze cilantro like that. Rarely can I use the entire bunch fast enough though when I buy it in the store. I planted it for the first time this year (next year I'm planting more)and I made what I thought was a big batch of cilantro pesto this summer. I thought that it would take me into winter but boy was I wrong. We loved it so much that it didn't even make it through July. 🙂
I'm signing up for your email. Love this site!
Thanks for the compliment! Does it grow easily? We have a ton of coriander seeds as we make my Chat Masala seasoning out of freshly ground coriander. You might like that also!
This is an excellent post with some great advice. Cilantro / coriander is such a versatile herb too. Thank you for sharing this with Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home.
This was the one herb I didn't plant in my garden this year because I have never really used it. But after reading this, I plan to include it next year 🙂 Thanks for your post!
This is a great post and very good information. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon!
Thanks for sharing with
Simply Delish Saturday
I love this stuff. I live alone, so I usually can't get through a bunch before it goes bad, but I'm glad to hear that apparently frozen cilantro retains flavor. Yes, the stems are excellent, too!
One thing: when you purchase it, if there's no scent, there's no flavor, either. I pinch a leaf, and sniff my fingers (I don't think pressing my nose down into the bundle is sanitary or polite), and if there's an aroma, it goes home with me.
I've never equated cilantro-flavor with soap, so fortunately I don't have that genetic disposition. I love it, and I love the cuisines that rely heavily on it.
Thanks for the tip about using the stems, I have always just pulled off the leaves! I will also try freezing it in the future!