Can you keep cilantro in water?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can keep cilantro in water. This will help keep cilantro fresh for longer compared to just leaving it out on the counter. Place the cilantro stems in a glass or jar filled with water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Change the water every 2-3 days. Cilantro stored this way should last for 1-2 weeks.

How to Store Cilantro in Water

Storing cilantro in water is an easy way to keep it fresh for longer. Here are some tips for storing cilantro in water:

  • Start with fresh cilantro. Discard any cilantro that is wilted or has yellowing leaves.
  • Cut the bottom 1 inch off the cilantro stems. This allows them to better absorb water.
  • Fill a glass, jar, or container with about 1 inch of water. Place the cilantro stems in the water.
  • Loosely cover the top of the container with a plastic bag. This helps retain humidity and prevent the leaves from wilting.
  • Store in the refrigerator. The cool temperature will slow down spoilage.
  • Change the water every 2-3 days to prevent bacterial growth. Recut the stems and replace with fresh water.

The cilantro leaves will stay fresh in the water for 1-2 weeks if stored properly in the refrigerator. The leaves may start to turn yellow or drop off after this time.

Benefits of Storing Cilantro in Water

There are several advantages to storing cilantro with its stems in water:

  • Longer freshness – The water hydrates the cilantro stems and leaves, keeping them crisp and delaying wilting.
  • Reduced spoilage – The water prevents the cilantro leaves from drying out, which slows down bacterial and fungal growth.
  • Convenience – Stored properly in the refrigerator, cilantro can be kept fresh and ready to use for up to 2 weeks.
  • More nutrients – Keeping the stems attached allows the leaves to continue pulling nutrients from the plant even after harvest.

Storing cilantro in water extends its shelf life significantly compared to just leaving it out on the counter. The hydration preserves texture, color, flavor, and nutrients.

Tips for Keeping Cilantro Fresh Longer in Water

Follow these tips to get the most out of storing cilantro in water:

  • Start with very fresh, perky cilantro. Older cilantro will not last as long in water.
  • Use a sharp knife or scissors to trim the stems. Cutting crushes the stems, impeding water uptake.
  • Change the water every 2-3 days to prevent bacterial growth. Recut the stems each time.
  • Add ice cubes to the water to keep the cilantro chilled. The cooler temperature prolongs freshness.
  • Consider using bottled or filtered water over tap water. It has less dissolved minerals that can cause the stems to decay.
  • Keep the container in the refrigerator, not left out on the counter. The cold environment slows deterioration.
  • Optionally, wrap the top of the bouquet in a damp paper towel before bagging. This provides extra humidity.

Proper refrigerator storage with regular water changes is key to keeping cilantro fresh and vibrant for as long as possible.

How Long Does Cilantro Last in Water?

With proper storage methods, cilantro will last in water for:

  • 7-10 days – Typical shelf life for cilantro kept in water in the refrigerator.
  • 2 weeks – The maximum for keeping cilantro with stems in water if cared for optimally.
  • 1-3 days – Approximate lifespan of cilantro left in water on the counter top.

The refrigerated environment is important for maximizing how long cut cilantro lasts in water. Without it, the cilantro deteriorates much more quickly at room temperature.

Factors like the freshness of the cilantro, cleanliness of the water, and humidity levels will affect exact shelf life. But 1-2 weeks is a reasonable best case timeframe for keeping cilantro fresh in water stored in the fridge.

Signs that Cilantro is Going Bad in Water

Watch for these signs that indicate your stored cilantro is reaching the end of its shelf life:

  • Wilting or drooping leaves
  • Yellowing or browning of leaves
  • Slimy or mushy stems
  • Foul odor
  • Presence of black or white mold
  • Excessive water turbidity

Once the cilantro starts exhibiting these issues, it’s time to discard it. Trying to salvage cilantro past its prime can lead to unwelcome flavors and textures in recipes. It’s best to remove decaying stems to avoid contaminating the rest of the bunch.

If cared for properly, the cilantro should remain fresh looking with bright green, perky leaves while stored in water in the refrigerator. Discoloration and wilting leaves are the first sure signs it’s declining in quality.

Can You Regrow Cilantro from Cuttings in Water?

It is possible to regrow cilantro from cuttings placed in water. This involves:

  • Cutting 3-4 inch stems below the leaves. Remove leaves from bottom 2 inches of stem.
  • Placing the bare stems in a jar of water in a sunny location. Change water daily.
  • Watching for new roots to emerge from the stems after 1-2 weeks.
  • Planting the rooted cuttings in soil once the root system is established.

While the above method can generate new cilantro plants, it has some downsides:

  • Success rate is not 100% guaranteed.
  • It takes time for new roots and leaf growth to develop.
  • The plants may bolt quickly after replanting due to the mature stem cuttings.

For immediate cilantro needs, it’s normally better to purchase fresh bunches from the store as required. But sprouting cilantro in water can be an interesting experiment for the gardener.

Can You Freeze Cilantro Stems?

Yes, cilantro stems can be frozen for later use. To freeze cilantro stems:

  1. Rinse and dry cilantro stems thoroughly after cutting.
  2. Spread the stems in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Freeze for 2-3 hours until completely frozen.
  4. Transfer to freezer bags or containers.
  5. Store frozen for up to 3 months.

The frozen cilantro stems are best used for adding flavor to dishes where appearance is not important, like soups, stews, and stocks. Frozen cilantro loses its fresh appearance and texture.

Freezing is an excellent way to make use of excess cilantro stems instead of throwing them away after using the leaves. The stems contain concentrated cilantro flavor.

Common Mistakes When Storing Cilantro in Water

It’s easy to make mistakes that will shorten the shelf life of cilantro stored in water. Here are some common errors:

  • Using warm water – Hot water will hasten deterioration of the cilantro.
  • Not changing the water – Causes bacterial buildup shortening freshness.
  • Keeping unbagged – Leads to excess evaporation causing wilting leaves.
  • Storing on countertop – Results in accelerated spoilage from warm air.
  • Crowding stems – Impedes water and nutrient flow hastening decline.
  • Damaging stems – Crushing or splitting stems reduces ability to uptake water.

Avoiding these simple mistakes ensures cilantro reaches its maximum potential freshness when stored properly in water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cilantro slimy in water?

Cilantro stems becoming slimy in water is often caused by bacterial growth. This occurs when the water is not changed frequently enough. Replacing the water every 2-3 days prevents this sliminess.

Should cilantro stems be submerged in water?

Yes, the cut cilantro stems should be fully submerged in water, rather than just the bottom sitting in water. Submerging provides the entire stem with hydration to maximize freshness.

Does cilantro need sunlight to stay fresh in water?

No, sunlight is not required to keep cilantro fresh in water. In fact, storing the cilantro in the refrigerator away from sunlight is recommended. Sunlight can enhance wilting and spoilage.

Should cilantro stems be trimmed before putting in water?

It’s a good idea to use a sharp knife or scissors to trim off about 1 inch from the bottom of the cilantro stems before placing in water. This provides a fresh cut end for better water absorption.

Can I use flavored water like lemon water for storing cilantro?

Plain water is recommended. Flavored water can cause the stems to break down faster. Lemon juice is very acidic and can increase deterioration.


Storing fresh cilantro with the stems placed in water is an easy way to keep it fresh longer. The water provides hydration to the cilantro, preventing wilting and helping it maintain texture, color and nutrients for 1-2 weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Trim stems, change water every 2-3 days, and keep refrigerated for best results. Monitor for any wilting, discoloration or sliminess that indicates the cilantro is past its prime. With just a little effort, you can enjoy fresh tasting cilantro for your cooking needs without waste.

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