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Preserving Cilantro (and other herbs)

Nature plays a mean trick on gardeners here in Southern California. By the time the tomatoes are ripe and the chiles are ready to pick, the salsa garden is missing an important ingredient: cilantro. Our delicate friend has long since bolted to seed, and like the hawk and wolf in Ladyhawke, never the twain shall meet.

But now there is a simple way to preserve the fresh flavor of cilantro. It’s like making pesto, but without the cheese and nuts. That’s right, just oil and cilantro. Here’s how:

Herbs All Year – Organic Gardening Magazine


It all starts with good quality oil or butter. Use 1/3 cup of oil for every 2 cups of leaves, or 1/2 cup  (1 stick) butter for 2-4 tablespoons leaves.

Wash and spin dry your herbs, discard stems and damaged leaves and place them in a food processor with the oil and hit puree. You’ll need to scrape down the sides and keep processing until you have a chunky paste.

Place the mixture in 1 cup portions in a zip lock bag and freeze flat. This part is key, so that you can break off pieces easily as needed without having to thaw first.

frozen cilantro and oil paste
frozen cilantro and oil paste


1) We found that 1/3 oil for cilantro was more than enough. Probably could cut it to 1/4 cup or use more leaves.

2) In the racehorse-fast VitaMix, herbs are pulverized quickly and start to smell like grass if you keep processing for too long. The blender has a habit of releasing the chlorophyll in green things, so take it easy.  Chunky bits are okay.

The finished product can be thrown into dishes during cooking, or mixed into guacamole and salsas. Cha-cha-cha!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Rene

    Excellent demo for preserving cilantro, I have needed to do something like this for a long time now. Your quinoa thread is outstanding too. Thanks Christy!

  2. MAB

    Maybe you could also freeze in ice cube trays?

    1. Christy

      Yes, you certainly can. By storing it flat though, it’s not as thick and so it’s easier to break off a piece as needed. If you plan to use the whole ice cube in your dish, then by all means freeze it.

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