The Easy Way To Pick Fresh Cilantro Without A Taste Test

Cilantro is truly a jack of all trades. It can be used to liven up guacamole, add cilantro zest to chicken and rice dishes, spice up cocktails, and even round out lime ice cream with some brightness. Historically, it was so revered in ancient Egypt that it was found within the tombs of the highest pharaohs. Ancient Greeks regarded the herb as an aphrodisiac and it was often used in medicine to aid in pain and arthritis. It's even mentioned in the Bible. 

With such a bold and cultural history — not to mention an intense flavor profile — we expect this mega-star of an herb to show up and show out when we need it to. However, sometimes we grab a nice-looking bunch from the grocery store only to find it wilting in the fridge within hours. You'll be glad to hear that there's an easy way to pick out the best cilantro from the grocery store just by eyeballing it. For starters, you'll want to examine the leaves and the stem tips. 

Look for leaves that are bright green, perky, and just a tad moist with no wilting in sight. The stems, on the other hand, should be free of any bruises or brown discoloration. If you can't find any without brown stems, choose the bunch with the least amount and snip them off when you get home. Also, give the cilantro a sniff. If it smells strong and fragrant with its classic citrusy and fresh notes that some people claim make cilantro taste like soap, it's good to go. 

Keeping your cilantro fresh

After you've picked the best bunch at the market or grocery store, the other half of the battle is properly storing cilantro. It's a very delicate herb, so taking small steps to keep your cilantro fresh will make a huge difference in its longevity. First, you'll want to be sure to remove any plastic or rubber bands from the bunch as these can aid in decay. Then, fill a glass or jar with an inch or so of water and place the cilantro inside with the leaves facing upward and the stems in the water — the same steps you'd take with a bouquet of flowers. 

Next, place a loose plastic bag over the top of the leaves to create somewhat of a greenhouse environment. Keep your jar of cilantro refrigerated and change out the water as it begins to get cloudy or dirty and your fresh herb supply can last for up to a month. You can also pop cilantro into an airtight storage container with a damp paper towel or cloth and stick it in the fridge; however, with this method, there are a few things you'll want to look out for. 

A paper towel that's too saturated can cause rotting and sogginess in the leaves. Once these effects hit one leaf, the rest can easily follow suit, so always make sure to trim away any mushy leaves. On the other hand, you also don't want a towel that isn't wet enough to keep the cilantro moist. Ultimately, just make sure you're checking the dampness level of the cloth each day when choosing this storage technique.