Friday, June 11, 2010

Concerning cilantro

I have a very large crop of cilantro this year and am trying to figure out the best way to preserve it. Will you help me, please?

I’ve already tried one method: blending the cilantro with olive oil and freezing it in ice cube trays, like this:

1. Remove the tough stems and rinse the leaves.



2. Stuff the cilantro in the blender.



3. Drizzle olive oil on top.



4. Blend, adding more oil as needed.



5. Divide the cilantro pulp in an ice cube tray.



6. Freeze.



7. Dump out the cubes, pack them into a glass jar, and store them in the freezer.



The only problem with this method is that the resulting cilantro tastes so mild. I added one cube to a small pot of black beans for supper last night (and who showed up at my door but my parentsoh, the irony!) but the taste was so inconsequential that I (or my parents) hardly even knew it was in there.

My sister-in-law says she just freezes the uncooked cilantro on a tray and then transfers it to a jar, pulling out a few sprigs when she needs a little, but she said that while it preserves nicely, it looses a lot of its potency.

So, do any of you have any cilantro preserving tricks? Is there a way to keep cilantro and its flavor?

In the meantime, I'm searching for more cilantro-heavy recipes. In my repertoire so far:

Peanut Noodles
Fresh Tomatillo Salsa
Curried Lentils

It's a pretty pathetic list. Any other suggestions?

About one year ago: Stirring the pot, a homeschooling mother's (that would be me!) tirade.

7 comments:

  1. JJ,

    I just don't even try to preserve cilantro (except by making tempero, which is a bit different). This goes against all my instincts, but I have come to terms with it (much as I have come to terms with thinning crops). The fact that it can survive the winter, as long as it is established when the cold weather hits makes this summertime waste easier to handle. Also usually around the beginning of February, I start a few pots of it inside to calm my cilantro mojo till spring. It is one of the first things we seed outside in the spring here in WV.

    What a wild crop, huh? Can survive a mountain winter and grow in the heat of places like Mexico and India.

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  2. Good for you and your cilantro crop. We have the hardest time growing it- it's pretty piddly looking and then goes to seed before it seems to be worth much. The times I did have it, I froze it like your sister in law. I thought it worked pretty well.

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  3. We like to pick it fresh, mix it up in a big bowl with just enough olive oil to coat the leaves and then gently pack it into freezer bags. The oil helps retain the flavor, stave off freezer burn, and makes it pretty easy to seperate. It seems to keep its flavor fairly well this way, I'm not sure if it is better, flavoe wise, than the ice cube tray method though as I have never tried that.

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  4. I like this way (below) of preserving cilantro, though I've had pretty good success with freezing the stems whole. This pesto recipe (which I adapted from one in The New Basics cookbook) is intense and delicious, excellent served as a dip for quesadillas or chips, dolloped in chili or black bean or potato soup, garnished on fish or chicken. The flavor is best fresh, immediately after making, but it does fine frozen and thawed, so long as you use it within a couple days. Freeze in small amounts so you don't have to throw any away. I mostly use it as a garnish, don't know how it does when cooked.


    Cilantro Pesto

    2 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped (may use stems and leaves)
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    3-4 tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
    1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 tsp. sea salt
    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper OR 1-4 thin slices jalepeno pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you prefer)

    Place all ingredients in blender or food processor, grinding/pulsing until pesto is thick and saucy. (You might just start dancing, what with all that pulsing and grinding...)

    Makes about 1 cup.

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  5. I just tried freezing cilantro as a bunch after washing it. Haven't used any yet.

    I want to get my hands on some cilantro seeds and try growing it in pots, but I have heard it's not very easy to grow.

    Recipe ideas? I use it in cabbage salad to eat with beans and rice, in sesame noodles, in Ham and Cabbage Salad (that's in More with Less - very good - I blogged it here http://thriftathome.blogspot.com/2010/03/sunday-dinner-cabbage-ham-salad.html). . . I make guacamole by mashing avocado with olive oil and lemon juice, adding some chopped onions or garlic, and chopped cilantro when I have it.

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  6. My favorite recipe using cilantro is millet patties, which I think might be from Nourishing Traditions. They are deLICious! It calls for "1/2 bunch cilantro," so when I'm using my own I always try to picture the size of the bunches from the store. We eat these on buns with burger fixings--homemad mayo, ketchup, avocado, you name it.

    Millet Patties
    Combine a heaping 1/2 cup dry measure of millet plus 1 3/4 cups water—bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the water is gone. Yield: about 2 cups cooked millet

    2 cups cooked millet
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup bulgur flour or unbleached white flour
    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
    1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
    1/2 cup grated parmesan
    butter or olive oil

    Blend eggs with flour and seasonings and fold in millet, onion, cilantro and cheese. Form into patties and sauté in butter or oil (or a mixture of both). Serve on whole grain buns with the usual fixings!

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  7. Thanks, Maggie. This looks really good!

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