Monday, May 2, 2011

Preserving Cilantro...In April?

A couple things before I jump in today... First of all, I have absolutely LOVED reading your answers to the questions I asked on Friday.  I love it that some of you are growing some gray hairs like me, that many of you would choose tomatoes (my first choice as well) and that Little House on the Prairie and The Cosby Show look to be your top favorites- they're mine, too!  If you haven't read through the comments, go on and do so- they're great.

Secondly, I want to mention that I am still plugging away memorizing a new verse every two weeks thanks to the prompting of Beth Moore.  Yesterday I chose verse number nine (of the year) and while my brain does not hold memory verses nearly as well as it used to, I am finding myself blessed beyond imagination through this process.  It's not too late to join in.  You can read a bit more about it here.  I've decided to post the verse I'm working on at the top of the right margin here to help me and to maybe inspire you to memorize along with me or chose your own verse to work on.  God's Word is a lamp to our feet (from Psalm 119:105)!

On to today's post!

We have tried (repeatedly) to grow cilantro.  We haven't been total failures.  It grows just fine, but then quick as a wink it goes to seed.  And this is looonnng before I want it for salsa and other summery dishes that just taste better with cilantro.

Well, this year, we didn't plant cilantro, but I have plenty of it.  Go figure.  Evidently, either the bird seed mix that we had been feeding to our lovely flying friends contained coriander (cilantro seed) or the cilantro I planted near the bird feeder three years ago re-seeded itself and chose to come up this year.  Regardless of how, up came cilantro several weeks back and it's been growing beautifully since.


I vowed not to waste one cilantro-y leaf and set to finding a way to preserve it.  In the past, I've frozen the fresh leaves on their stems as they are.  It works nicely, but the boldness of the flavor is muted a bit.  I was up for trying something different.

On Jennifer Jo's blog I came across a comment from Kris who shared what she does.  She makes a kind of cilantro pesto- without the cheese and nuts.  I think it's more of a cilantro sauce in condiment form.  So, last week, I headed outside with my scissors and snipped two and a half recipes worth.  I left the newest growth in hopes it will come back again and again.  I am determined this year, you see, to have cilantro.

Another thing I tried was that instead of freezing it in ice cube trays like I do pesto, I used my mini muffin tin.  I wanted the amounts to be smaller, since I'm planning on using it like a garnish, as you would fresh cilantro.


I froze it in the trays in 1 tbsp. portions.  I thawed some and ate it smeared on top of some leftover Chicken Chimichangas I had on hand and My. Word. Was it ever good.  It kept it's fresh and bold taste incredibly well.  I highly recommend making this sauce as soon as you can get your hands (and scissors) on some cilantro.  I am simply thrilled to have come across this recipe.  Thank you, Kris!

Cilantro Sauce, A Condiment (a recipe from Kris that I re-named)

Yields about 10 tablespoons.

2 cups cilantro, loosely packed
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tbsp. lime or lemon juice (I used bottled lime juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt (I used kosher)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (I used a little less)

Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulverize.  Divide and freeze (in mini muffin tins or ice cube trays), then pop out and store in a bag and freeze again.  Or serve fresh for some amazing flavor.

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42 comments:

  1. Than you so much! I love cilantro and cannot wait to try this!

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  2. I definitely am going to have to try this. We have some volunteer cilantro that came up this year too and I don't want any of it to go to waste. Also, I'll have to head back over to Friday's post. I remember reading it and wanting to come back to answer some of the questions too and then I never got around to it. Blessings!

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  3. Been doing the icecube tray thing, just cilantro in water. But this looks like an improvement!

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    Replies
    1. Is the flavor maintained in just water?

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  4. If I may make a suggestion, it sometimes works to plant things late--so if you want fresh cilantro right off the plant when your summery veggies are ripening, then sow new seed in June. It also helps to keep them well-shorn; if you are constantly chopping the tops off they are delayed in going to seed.
    That's been my experience!

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  5. I too have cilantro that comes up volunteer every year, and is ready about 2 months earlier than the tomatoes. So I do as another commenter suggested and sow a bit in June. Then I try to keep it cut back, and usually it lasts through tomato season. I tried drying it but it pretty much resembles dried parsley. This looks awesome! I've got to try it.

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  6. I think that my Mother uses the microwave and paper towels to dry cilantro- She gave us some a year or two ago that she had dried, it kept quite nicely for some time, retaining it's flavour.

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  7. I'm so excited to see this! I love cilantro, but I've never been happy with my preserving methods. It just loses it's spunky flavor. I've got some very small cilantro sprouts. Can't wait to give it a try.

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  8. great idea! I am totally going to try this

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  9. What a great idea. I have had cilantro go to seed quickly too, and had no idea what to do with it to preserve it.

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  10. Thank you, thank you for this post! My cilantro goes to seed faster than a blink of an eye. (But I love the gorgeous greenery covered in flowers that it makes then.) But this year I will keep mine cut back like crazy hoping to lengthen the season and I'm definitely going to try your recipe for your Cilantro Sauce! Thanks again.

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  11. I've been doing the Beth Moore memorizing too! It's been such a blessing - I have been putting mine to songs since I'm not sure I will remember them otherwise. :)

    And fabulous idea with the cilantro. I wasn't planning on growing any this year, but I may have to plant some just to try this out.

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  12. Ok, so I made beef burritos for dinner tonight and I thought I'd try this cilantro sauce to go on top. 1. It is delicious! 2. My husband couldn't help himself in making jokes about what he thought it looked like.

    I'm gonna be freezing some of this yumminess (in spite of my husband's jokes).

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  13. I just cut off the stalks that went to seed and tossed them under the bird feeder hoping they would appeal to the birds and not go to waste. I. Will. Not. Let. Another. Leaf. Go. To. Waste. ;)

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  14. OH MY!!! so so so GOOD! I could eat this all day - with a little garlic breath afterwards - which is never a bad thing right?

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  15. What a great way to keep cilantro! I always end up with it going bad too quickly when I buy it, and when I grow it, it does seem to go to seed so fast. Thanks for sharing!
    Becca visiting from sweetswansongs.blogspot.com

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  16. Am I able to follow this on facebook?

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  17. Linda,
    You can find our facebook page here...

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thy-Hand-Hath-Provided/117579618257522

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  18. Found this recipe on pinterest! Really nice! I live in Arizona and need to use up my cilantro before we get frost.

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  19. I so agree with your observation that the cilantro has gone to seed WAY before the other salsa ingredients are ready! Here in NEPA, I have a second batch of volunteer cilantro growing right now. This is very odd for our region this time of year, but many odd things are happening in my yard/gardens of late, If I can manage to get a lime in the next few days I may have to try this to preserve some of my unexpected cilantro bounty. Thanks!

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  20. This is a GREAT recipe, but I highly advise you not use metal muffin tins, but use rubber ice cube trays that makes it easy for them to pop out. I had to push these out with a knife, and I rusted my muffin tins that way. :(.

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    Replies
    1. Couldn't you put a piece of plastic wrap loosely over muffin tin first. Then fill them with the cilantro mixture? Should help them pop out easy after freezing,

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  21. I found you on pinterest:) Love this idea, can't wait to try it! Do you include the stems too when you preserve them this way or do you use only the leaves?

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    1. I'm so glad you stopped by! I remove the stems that lead to the little "branches" that hold the leaves and only remove those "branches" if they're long or tough. Anything real tender can be included.

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  22. I look forward to trying this! If you plant cilantro about every two weeks you should get a longer harvest. In the heat of summer plant cilantro where it will receive some shade. Hot weather can cause cilantro to go to seed.

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  23. I nip off the stalks diagonally and put them in a tall glass with water - like a vase and pop it in the refridgerator - keeps for a month !

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  24. Oh yum!! I can't wait to try this. Here in NY, I had cilantro growing until probably the beginning of December, and its been a long few months of boring tacos... I don't plant cilantro anymore, it just comes up wherever it wants throughout the garden. I usually try to transplant some into a bed so I have a patch of plants. Its quite impossible to keep up with all of the it, and I have plenty of seed to scatter around the garden. I cant wait to try this!!

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  25. Definitely going to try this. It gets too hot in the summer down here for cilantro to keep growing when we have tomatoes and salads. Thanks so much!

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  26. So, how much is 2 cups of fresh cilantro? Do you snip off the stems and then smash it into a measuring cup? Or loosely drop it into the measuring cup?

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    1. I aim for loosely packed- somewhere between just dropping the leaves in and smashing them in. I added "loosely packed" in the recipe above. Hope this helps:-).

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  27. Love that I came across your blog and the cilantro recipe! We love cilantro and will be growing it this year. Can't wait to try this recipe out.

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  28. I love this idea, we also grew cilantro last year and before I knew it it had gone to seed. I will try again this year. In the mean time I made a double batch of your recipe and just put it in the freezer.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Not a cilantro person, but I grow basil, oregano and sage. Do you think it would work well for storing these herbs?

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    1. Hm. The basil version would be similar to pesto, so I'm sure that would work nicely. Oregano might, too. I'm not sure about the sage, though, seeing as I'm not much of a "sage person" :-). I hope this helps. If you experiment, come back and tell me how it worked!

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  30. If you add a little sour cream and mayo to this you have El Pollo Locos cilantro dressing they use on there salads. great idea...

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  31. Brilliant! You're a genius! I planted too much cilantro and was stressed out about wasting it by not preserving it well enough to use later. I think you saved me! I made a batch to see how it turned out and then I made a second batch since it was so perfect. I froze most, but used some tonight to stir into rice and garden veggie stir-fry. Perfect. I look forward to popping out my little cilantro cubes when making salsa (once those tomatoes finally ripen), chicken tacos, soups, stews..endless. Thank you!!

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  32. Thanks for the info...bought to much cilantro (in hopes of tomatoes getting ripe) to can salsa..just made up a batch of your cilantro magic for the freezer.

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  33. I mentioned your sauce in my Hatch Green Chile and Potato Corn Chowder at Cooking Ripe! http://cookingripe.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/southwestern-green-chile-and-corn-potato-chowder/

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  34. This Cilantro sauce is actually green chutney that is a staple in Indian menus. They are delicious with Papadums, fritters, sandwiches etc.

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  35. This looks great! I'm excited to try. One hint for those of you whose cilantro is going to seed fast...Mine did too until I put it in a pot and stuck it somewhere where it could get morning sun and afternoon shade. I planted a TON and it never went to seed before I could use it. Then just kept resowing during the summer months. After I cut the cilantro leaves off a couple of times I would let those cilantro plants go to seed. After a couple times being cut, the stem becomes very hard and woody.

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  36. Thank you for this recipe. I am so excited to try it. We have a TON of cilantro that self-seeded itself from last year and of course, waaaaay before tomatoes are ready for salsa. I cut all my cilantro and removed the stems so it is just waiting patiently for the kiddos to go take their nap so I can finish it. Yum.I am new to growing/using fresh cilantro (just familiar with it from restaurants) and I was discouraged when looking for preservation methods since most state that it looses its flavor. We bought a chest freezer this past winter and I am anxiously waiting for the garden to start producing so I can fill it. Excited to add this to the freezer. I may have missed it, but how long do you think this will keep in the freezer before it starts to compromise the flavor?

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