Cilantro: Preserving By Freeze Drying

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The garden abundance has continued, and I am so grateful for it!  Even moreso, I am grateful for what I am learning…canning, preserving, dehydrating, drying.  Fun and fulfilling!


Any cilantro lovers out there? Mmmmmm!!! I love this herb, so versatile and flavorful!  I use it in many of my recipes.  If you are not a cilantro lover (ummm, why aren’t you??) this post applies to just about any herb you love…check it out!


Cilantro closeup
I found out the hard way that cilantro doesn’t keep.  I found this out over and over, and not just from my garden cilantro.  I buy it from the store, use a small bunch so I can savor the rest, and a few days later, it’s limp, lifeless, and turning to green goo in my produce crisper.  I would salvage what I could, but inevitably threw a lot of it away.  Then I decided to try drying it.  After a good 12 hours in the dehydrator, it was also limp and lifeless…and without any aroma or flavor at all!


Thanks to a recent class I attended about herb preserving, I tried out the freeze dry method in ice cube trays. Since cilantro doesn’t retain flavor as a dried herb, this is a perfect way to still have that amazing flavor at the ready!  You can also do this if that big bundle you bought at the store starts to go bad before you’ve been able to use it.


Simply trim the fresh leaves from the stem, chop to your heart’s content, and place the herbs in an ice cube tray.  So easy!  I tried about half of the tray with a few drops of water, and the other half without. The “watered cubes” work great for adding to soups, and the “non-watered” can be used in salads.


I’ve outlined the steps for you in the following pictures:


Cilantro prep
1.  Start with a clean knife, cutting board, space to work, and a nice clean ice cube tray.  (TIP:  if you are harvesting your own herbs, the prime cutting time to maintain the essential oils is about mid-morning…just after the dew has mostly evaporated)


2.  Check the leaves for bugs or dirt; rinse gently only to remove (I didn’t rinse mine at all) in order to maintain the herb’s essential oils intact.  
Cilantro closeup
3.  Remove the leaves from the stems and set the stems aside.
Remove the stems
4.  Chop to your heart’s content!  You can chop it very fine, or leave it as larger leafs.  I chopped about half of it into fine pieces for the cubes I wanted to make for soups; I left large leaves for the cubes I wanted to sprinkle in salads.
5.  Begin filling the ice cube tray.  For the soup cubes, I added a few drops of water to hold them together.  For the salad cubes, I just left them alone.  You can add a few drops of olive oil and experiment!
Starting the ice cube tray
Filling the ice cube tray
Leafy cubes
6.  Place the trays in the freezer and let us know how you did!


~GGF Gourmet

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