Friday, June 5, 2009
Harvesting and Preserving Cilantro
We were able to harvest 2 1/4 gallons of cilantro leaves (coriander) today. Cilantro is a delicious annual herb, member of the parsley family, and an essential ingredient in our diet that we use weekly in various salsa, quesadilla, and veggie burger recipes.
As we only allow a small area of our garden for this plant, if lucky, we are able to get three good cuttings that provide us with around 6 frozen gallons. Surprisingly, both cilantro and basil freeze very well. After cutting the leaves, preferably in the early morning while they are freshest, we mix them with a small amount of olive oil... just enough to coat the leaves. They are then packed into freezer bags and frozen for later use. The olive oil makes it really easy to separate the frozen leaves and also adds an extra flavor to the mix.
This works marvelously with both cilantro and basil, we may also try using olive oil on our frozen kale this year. Frozen basil does lose it's color but the essence remains. The trick is to use it quickly as it becomes quite limp and hard to work with once it begins to thaw. In our house basil is used for various tomato dishes and is especially good in homemade pizza sauce and on bruschetta. Frozen kale goes great in a potato and kale soup that we make in the winter when greens are hard to come by... so good.