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I realize that, as I live in a northerly climate, I cannot expect to have fresh herbs like coriander always available at my beck and call.

Yet, yesterday I bought a lovely, thick bunch of coriander at the cheapo-supermarket closest to my home and it was fantastic: profuse, aromatic, and fully tumescent.

Now, 24 hours later, even though I refrigerated it in an vase with water (it has the roots still attached) it is looking like sh*t.

I know that greens deteriorate over time but the turn around time in this case seems ridiculous to me. Italian parsley, AFAIK, is also imported yet it lasts for weeks in the crisper.

Is the only reason coriander looks good on the shelf is that it is spritzed every 90 seconds?

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It should store better in a nearly closed plastic bag, no excess water etc. –  TFD Dec 7 '11 at 5:43
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"Tumescent"? What ARE you doing with your unsuspecting cilantro? Clearly you're not cooking with it! –  BobMcGee Dec 7 '11 at 6:25
    
I often buy coriander in the little plant pots rather than precut - it's not much more expensive and lasts longer. –  ElendilTheTall Dec 7 '11 at 11:03
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@BobMcGee you are incorrect sir. Everything is above board in the Doug household. And, just as I feared, within a day the cilantro has once again become flaccid and drooping, the opposite of tumescent. –  Doug Dec 8 '11 at 19:33

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Theory 1: moisture

Were the leaves wet at all? I worked in a restaurant before, tending to the fridge. I had to make sure the salads were washed and thoroughly spun. Wet greens wilted and rotted faster and we had to toss them. The roots can be wet and exposed to water, but make sure the leaves stay dry.

Theory 2: freezer burn

This link mentions that cilantro can be damaged by freezing temperatures, which could be an explanation for what you're seeing? Is it so cold in your area that your refrigerator actually dips into freezing temps because the air around it does?

Meats can get freezer burn or taste off after freezing. One explanation I've read is that water freezes as sharp crystals in and around the cells. Upon defrosting, these sharp crystals can cut through cell membranes, causing cell contents to leak out and alter the meat structure. In theory the same could apply to anything organic.

Theory 3: dehydration

The link above and others I've read suggest storing cilantro as you do in the fridge, but covered with a plastic bag. Some wrap their cilantro in a paper towel. Either way, this creates an enclosed or somewhat-enclosed space that slows down moisture escaping from the leaves. The air in the fridge is generally dry and can suck moisture out of the leaves. I know this sounds like the opposite of too much moisture, but there's a window for how much moisture plants want--neither too little nor too much is desired.

I'd try to resolve this in the order above. If you left the leaves wet, I'd say that's a very likely culprit. I'd check your fridge temperature next: you could put an ice tray near where you put the cilantro to see if it freezes or starts freezing overnight. If it's still wilting fast, try doing what you did with a plastic or paper bag over the leaves--making sure the bag isn't crushing them.

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+1 for the plastic bag. I place mine in a fold of paper towel and put it in plastic bag. I get a week or so out of them. –  Sobachatina Dec 7 '11 at 14:39
    
the leaves were definitely wet, but are not showing the physical signs of moisture or freezer burn. Perhaps dehydration is the problem as suggested.I will give the plastic bag a go. –  Doug Dec 8 '11 at 19:36
    
Make sure the leaves are dry before going into storage. For some reason, wet greens will wilt. If you don't have a salad spinner, a few shakes and patting dry with paper towels should mostly do the job –  Eric Hu Dec 8 '11 at 22:05

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