Harvesting & Storing Cilantro: How to Harvest and Store Cilantro The Right Way?

Cilantro is an annual herb belonging to the parsley family, it is a versatile herb that is used in many dishes around the world. It has a distinct flavor and aroma that can enhance the taste of any dish and is often added to soups, stews, salads, and salsas.

Cilantro is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, K, calcium, and potassium. It’s relatively easy to grow and harvesting cilantro is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps.

In this article, we will discuss how to harvest cilantro and provide some tips to ensure a successful harvest.

Understanding Cilantro

When harvesting cilantro, it is important to choose plants that are healthy and free from disease. The leaves should be green and vibrant, and they should have a strong aroma. It is best to harvest cilantro in the morning when the leaves are at their freshest.

To harvest cilantro, simply cut the stems at the base of the plant using a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears. Be sure to leave at least one-third of the plant intact to allow for regrowth.

When to Harvest Cilantro?

Cilantro can be harvest from spring into early days of summers, then when the temperature rising, the plant will start to bolt and the leaves become less flavorful and more bitter, so be sure to harvest cilantro before it’s bolted for the best taste.

  • Cilantro can be harvested when the plant gets to be about six inches tall ( within 40 – 50 days after sowing the seeds)
  • The ideal time to harvest cilantro is in the morning, this is when the plant has its peak flavor and aroma.
  • Harvest it once a week

How to Harvest Cilantro Properly?

There are a lot of methods for harvesting cilantro out there, some will tell you use the cut-and-come-again method which mean cutting the cilantro plant right off the base, and this will not only make the plant grow back, but also make the plant grow back as full and as healthy ever, but this is not true, if you do harvesting like this method, some of the plant will die totally, if there are some plant grow back, it’s a very weak version compare with previously.

Another one will tell you trim the top down of the outer stems to where the stem will start to branch, so they will continue to branch and produce at that point, I tried this method as well and this is also not work because the plant tend to bolt earlier.

One method that work with me like a charm is just simple trimming leaves from the outer part of the plant and leaving the center intact, use a pair of sharp scissors, garden shears or your hand, and you should avoid cutting too much of the plant, let say harvesting about 1/3 leaves of the plant to allow the plant have its ability to continue produce.

Additionally, harvesting cilantro before the leaves start to wilt or turn yellow will ensure that you get the freshest and most flavorful leaves.

Seed Harvesting

Cilantro seeds, also known as coriander, are commonly used as a spice in various dishes. To harvest cilantro seeds, wait until the plant has finished flowering and the seeds have turned brown. Cut the seed heads from the plant and place them in a paper bag. Hang the bag in a dry, well-ventilated area for several weeks until the seeds are completely dry. Once dry, remove the seeds from the seed heads, remove some small, weaker seeds and store them in an airtight container.

How to Store Fresh Cilantro?

Cilantro taste best when you use it right after your harvest, if you want to store it to use later, here’s what you could do:

  1. Refrigerate in a ziplock bag: Don’t wash leaves when stored this way, place the cilantro in a ziplock bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and seal it tightly. Then, store it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. This method can help keep the cilantro fresh for up to two weeks.
  2. Store in a jar of water: Wash the cilantro thoroughly, cut off the ends of the cilantro stems, place them in a jar of water, and cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Then, store the jar in the refrigerator. This method can help keep the cilantro fresh for up to 3-4 weeks.
  3. Freeze in a ziplock bag: clean and wash the cilantro, pat dry well, and then simply chop all the cilantro leaves, put it in a ziplock bag, label the bag with date and contents, then free it! This method can help keep the cilantro fresh for up to six months. To use frozen cilantro, simply remove the desired amount from the ziplock bag and add it directly to your recipe. There’s no need to thaw it beforehand.

It’s important to note that storing cilantro with fruits such as apples, bananas, or tomatoes can cause it to spoil faster due to the release of ethylene gas. Therefore, it’s best to store cilantro separately from these fruits.

How to Dry Cilantro?

Drying cilantro is a great way to preserve its flavor and aroma for future use. When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, dried cilantro leaves can last up to three years. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  1. Wash the cilantro leaves thoroughly and pat them dry with a clean towel.
  2. Remove any large stems or tough parts of the leaves.
  3. Spread the leaves out in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a baking sheet or a wire rack.
  4. Allow the leaves to air dry for several days, until they become crisp and brittle.
  5. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator to speed up the drying process. Set the temperature to 95°F and dry the leaves for 1-2 hours.
  6. Once the cilantro is completely dry, remove any remaining stems or debris and store the leaves in an airtight container.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Harvesting Cilantro

1. Waiting Too Long to Harvest

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when harvesting cilantro is waiting too long to do so. Cilantro is a fast-growing herb, and if you wait too long to harvest it, it will begin to bolt and go to seed.

Make sure to harvest your cilantro when it is still young and tender. You can tell that your cilantro is ready to be harvested when it has grown to a height of about 6 inches and has developed a full set of leaves.

2. Overcrowding the Plants

Another mistake that people make when growing cilantro is overcrowding the plants. Cilantro needs plenty of space to grow, and if the plants are too close together, they will compete for nutrients and water, make sure to space your cilantro plants at least 6 inches apart. This will give them plenty of room to grow and will help to ensure that they get the nutrients and water that they need.

3. Not Watering Enough

Cilantro is a thirsty herb, and if you don’t water it enough, it will quickly become stressed and may even die. This is especially true during hot weather or if you are growing your cilantro in a container.

Make sure to water your cilantro regularly, especially during hot weather. You should also make sure that your cilantro is planted in well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that you get a great yield of high-quality cilantro that is perfect for use in your favorite recipes.

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Ana Harned

With over a decade of experience in gardening and horticulture, Ana Harned is a passionate botanist dedicated to promoting sustainable gardening practices. She holds a degree in botany and currently serves as the editor for Backyard Gardeners Network. Ana's love for gardening extends beyond her personal garden, as she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others about the joys and benefits of cultivating plants.

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