Thursday, October 21, 2010

No more soggy cilantro

Cilantro, like many cut plants, wilts over time.  The cure for this is to trim the cut ends and plunge them into a vase of water.  Use enough water to cover most of the stem, but not the leaves.
 Then place a loose plastic bag over the cilantro and put it in the refrigerator.
When you want to use a bit of cilantro, just take out the small amount that you need and put the rest back in the refrigerator.  Cilantro can stay fresh over 2 weeks in the refrigerator this way.

Celery also benefits from this treatment.
To the CSA box celery, we added some carrot flowers from our garden and a stalk of artichoke from Trader Joe's to make an edible bouquet.

Most people don't eat the carrot tops that come with the CSA carrots, but they are really pretty when put in a vase with some flowers from the garden or store.

You can use a glass instead of a vase, but a vase has a more stable base.  You can also put it in a plastic juice pitcher, but then we don't see the cilantro and forget about it.  Oops.

The science behind this:
When you trim (1/2" to 1") off the ends of the cilantro, you open up the small tubes that draw water from the bottom of the plant to the leaves.  It's lack of water up at the leaves (not an excess of it) that makes the leaves wilt.

If you place the vase of cilantro out at room temperature, you can watch the water in the vase disappear through evapotranspiration out through the leaves. 

How does the speed of the evapotranspiration vary with the temperature in the room?  The humidity?  The level of water?

The water in the vase can also breed bacteria.  After you are done with this experiment, rinse the cilantro and vase to reduce the bacteria, refill the vase, and put the cilantro back into the vase.  You may want to trim about 1/2" off the stems again.

If you don't use the plastic bag, the cilantro will evapotranspirate water into the refrigerator, which is not good for some of the other food in there.  That's why you want to use the bag.

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