Drying cilantro is usually not recommended as it tends to lose a lot of the herb’s distinctively bright flavor. If you have no choice but to dry your cilantro, you will have to be careful about which method you use. Here are some ways to dry cilantro for the best flavor:
The most cost-effective way to dehydrate any herb is to air-dry it. This method requires no electrical or gas-powered appliances. Simply use dry air to remove moisture from the cilantro thus preserving it. To air-dry cilantro, start with clean cilantro. Wash and dry it off. After that, make small bundles. The bundles should consist of four or five stems. Hang them upside down in a spot that is well-ventilated and where the air is dry.
Another optional step is to place a paper bag over each bundle of cilantro. The paper bag can accomplish two things: it helps to protect the cilantro from mold and it catches any leaves that fall off. Air-drying cilantro can take between two and four weeks. You will know that the leaves are dry when they crumble easily.
In the oven
A standard oven is a great tool for drying herbs. You will want to go through the same washing and drying steps that you would use when air-drying. Lay out the cilantro in a single layer on a cookie sheet that you have lined with parchment paper. A single layer ensures that the cilantro will all dry at the same rate. Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting. Some ovens will go as low as 170 degrees Fahrenheit but many won’t let you go any lower than 200.
In either case, it will be too hot to dry a delicate herb like cilantro so you will have to leave the door cracked open. Not only will the open door keep the oven from getting too hot, but it will also enable air circulation. The moisture that evaporates from the cilantro will be drawn out and replaced by dry air. Cilantro shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes to dry out in the oven.
In a food dehydrator
Your food dehydrator was designed for drying herbs so it will provide a more consistent product than the other methods in this post. Lay out cilantro that you have washed and dried off on the dehydrator’s trays. Keep it to a single layer per tray. The dehydrator dries out herbs and other produce by circulating warm air. If you overload the trays, you might hinder the air circulation.
Once you have the trays loaded, follow the dehydrator’s instructions for cilantro. The temperature setting might be somewhere between 90 degrees and 110 degrees. Most devices will take about five hours to get the cilantro completely dry.
In a microwave
The microwave will be your best option if you need dried cilantro at short notice. Keep in mind that its quality will likely be inferior to the dried cilantro you would get if you used one of the other methods on this list. You will have to be careful to avoid over-drying the herb.
Place washed and dried cilantro on a paper towel and cover with another paper towel. Microwave on high for about three minutes and open the door every minute or so to let the hot, moist air out. If the cilantro is not dry and crumbly at the end of the drying time, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts. Check for dryness after each burst.