while the most common way to use cilantro, at least in the South and in Latin cuisines, is the use of fresh leaves there are other ways to use cilantro or the seeds (coriander). Cilantro can be dried or frozen or in the case of short-term use refrigerated. Coriander seeds necessarily are used dry, but they can be ground into a powder and used as a spice.
Methods of Drying Cilantro Leaves
Drying your Cilantro harvest is easy to do at home and requires no special equipment. However, you want to be sure to harvest cilantro before the plant begins to bolt for the best results. Once the cilantro bolts the leaves change as does the flavor and the texture of the leaves. If your cilantro escapes from you, as mine sometimes does, and has started to flower you might as well let it go ahead and go to seed so you can use the coriander. If you still want cilantro leaves, you should go ahead and succession plant a new crop or if the weather is exceedingly hot consider growing your cilantro indoors in pots or as microgreens.
Although Cilantro seeds (Coriander) are used most often in a large variety of dishes, dried Cilantro has its place in soups, sauces, and stews.
- Garden or Kitchen shears
- Basket or another container suitable for Cilantro sprigs
- Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
- Rubber Bands
- Clothes Drying Rack, Dry attic or porch
- Small Brown Paper Bags (optional)
- Gather your Cilantro harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night.
- Gather the sprigs into small, loose bundles, and bind the stems together with rubber bands to keep them together as they dry. Be sure to space the branches to allow for good air circulation.
- If using paper bags, cover each bundle and cut small slits the sides to allow for air flow around the Cilantro. These protective paper bags keep dust off of the Cilantro as it dries and stops the Cilantro becoming sunlight bleached. Ensure that enough air flows through the paper bags to keep your Cilantro from molding. Occasionally inspect your Cilantro, and, if necessary either cut more holes in the paper bags or remove the Cilantro from the paper bags. Moisture may build up inside the paper bag, especially if the sun hits it, allowing fungus and mildew to form. Discard any molded leaves or bunches.
- Hang your Cilantro upside down (leaf ends down) in a warm, dry place such as an attic, pantry, a disused room, or protected porch until the leaves are dry and brittle to the touch, which should take about two weeks.
- Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.
- Crumble the dried leaves onto the wax paper and separate all of the tough stems.
- Pour the Cilantro into a clean, airtight jar, Ziplock freezer bag, or a vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.
Airtight jars or pouches of cilantro can be stored in a dry, dark place like your pantry, root cellar, or cupboard.
Dried Cilantro and Cilantro can be used in sauces, gravies, dressings, vinaigrettes, chutneys, and a large variety of vegetable dishes.
Oven Drying Cilantro
Cilantro can be dried in the oven at the lowest temperature, or, if you have a gas stove with a pilot light using only the pilot light as the heat source, but this may take a little longer. Spread the cilantro evenly in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Special Note: If using a cookie sheet to dry the Cilantros, place the Cilantros to be dried on parchment paper to avoid direct contact with the metal trays. Metal contact darkens the color of the Cilantro being dried, causing the Cilantro to lose its bright green color.
- Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
- Kitchen shears or good chopping knife
- Chopping board or block
- Parchment Paper
- Cookie Sheet
- Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Cilantro sprigs.
- Pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.
- Using your ovens lowest temperature setting and preheat the oven.
- Dice the cilantro into 1/4″ pieces onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or spread the whole leaves in a thin layer on the paper.
- Place in oven on evenly spaced racks for two to four hours or until Cilantro crumbles easily rubbed between your fingers. Your actual drying times vary a little from one day to the next.
- Check the drying progress after about 30 minutes, and then at 15-minute intervals until the leaves feel dry and flaky. Remove from the oven to cool.
- Shape the parchment paper into a funnel and place the smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar or a vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.
Drying Cilantro In A dehydrator
Soak your Cilantro herbs in a bowl of water. Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Cilantro sprigs. Next, remove the stems of the leaves. Some people prefer to dry their herbs without removing the stems; it is a matter of personal preference.
Layout the cleaned leaves on dehydrator trays in a single layer–they can touch, but not overlapping. They will not stick together when they are dried.
You should process these in your favorite dehydrator at 110° for approximately 1 to 3 hours. Cilantro leaves dry fairly quickly, so, will want to check them frequently. You’ll know they are done when the leaves are crisp and crumble between your fingers.
Dried Coriander Seeds
- Clip the seed heads from the mature Coriander plant as soon as you notice that the flower heads are starting to set seeds. Sееdѕ usually mature rather quickly, so act quickly.
- Gather the clipped seed heads into loose bundles and secure with a rubber band.
- Cover the seed pod bundles with paper bags and hang upside down in an airy, dry place to dry. The seed should separate from the seed heads within a few weeks.
- Shake the dried Cilantro paper bags to loosen any other seeds and pour onto a piece of wax paper or parchment paper.
- Remove the stems and any other debris to separate the seeds and pour into a small spice container for use in the kitchen or for planting in the Spring!
- Place jar or pouch in a dry, dark place such as your kitchen cabinet, pantry or even your freezer.
- Dried Cilantro will last as long as any other dried Cilantro you buy—as long as two years.