Thursday, May 27, 2010

Freezing Cilantro

This year has brought an unexpectedly robust crop of cilantro, which enjoys such a brief season.  You simply must keep cutting it back, or it will flower and go to seed.  Then you have a bumper crop of corriander, which is a completely different problem (in that I have no idea what do with it, in spite of the fact that I keep harvesting and saving it).  The cilantro, though, you want to keep producing for all of those Latin dishes that get their unique flavor from it.

This year, I have decided to freeze some cilantro for winter use in guacamole and ropa villeja.  It couldn't be easier:  simply take a good size handful, chop it fine, and put it in a half pint freezer jar.  I like the plastic ones from Ball.  Then,fill with olive oil, being sure to fill all the nooks and crannies.

That's it.  The top picture shows the end result; just pop it in the freezer, then thaw during those winter months when it feels like you need to head to Key West if you are ever going to get good Cuban food again.  (Not that I have a problem with that approach, either, but this is cheaper.)

The Analysis

Fast:  The entire process takes probably 10 minutes from harvest to freezer.

Cheap:  Your only costs are the start-up costs from reuseable freezer containers, and of course the olive oil.  I try to use a good extra virgin olive oil, which I have discovered I can buy in bulk for cheap at a local Italian market.

Good:  Since cilantro doesn't dry well, this is your only method to really ensure you have that summery flavor for Latin dishes year-round.  I am going to put up at least four, if not six, of these half pints.
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