Step 1 - Buy Fresh. If you have a limp set of bruised leaves to begin with, there is no way you can be Nurse Herb.
Step 2 - Pick and soak.
Once the coriander leaves are home, don't abandon them and wander off to watch the Lord of Rings Trilogy. The leaves require immediate attention. If you aren't able to process them right away, do the Coffin: wet a hand towel thoroughly and wrap it around the entire bunch, roots and all. The Coffin can be shoved into any corner of your counter. If you think that you'll be taking more than 24 hours to pick out the leaves, you can put it into the fridge at this point. The longest I have left the Coffin in the fridge is 48 hours, making sure the towel is wet the whole time.
You can do the pick and soak routine while doing other tasks like watching TV, arguing with your mate, listening to a podcast or gawking at pigeons on your balcony. You will need a bowl with lots of water and somewhere to store the discarded stems (great for the compost bin). I normally pick the leaves with a bit of stem still left on them and remove brown and black leaves at this stage. You can do this to the degree that you are obsessive. Toss leaves into bowl of water as you pick them off. Every few ticks, plunge your fingers into the bowl to make sure all leaves are covered in the water. My bowl here is a salad spinner. Things are pretty nifty if you are using a spinner. I do two washes (saving the water for the plants) and then a few rounds of spinning. The leaves should look dry but feel moist between your fingers.
For all those who pouted when you read salad spinner because it is not yet an item on your kitchen shelf, here's the alternative. Rinse the leaves in a couple of changes of water or how many ever times suits your paranoia. In India the leaves I get are quite mucky so rigorous rinsing is a must. After the final rinse, lay the leaves on a dry kitchen towel making sure you spread the leaves evenly over the surface. You are ready for the next step when the leaves look dry but feel moist between your fingers. This does take time depending on how hot and humid your kitchen is. You can speed it up by making another Coffin (with a dry towel though).
Step 3 - Store
Take a suitable size container (preferably plastic) which has a tight lid. I have tried using the stainless steel dubbas with holes in them - useless. Don't worry about squashing too many leaves in. As long as the lid stays shut once all your leaves are in, and you hear some rustling movement when the container is shaken, you are good.
Line the bottom with paper. I use supermarket receipts, ATM receipts - all those receipts that somehow find their way into my purse. Put the leaves in. I put another receipt on top. Close the lid and shove into fridge. This container typically lounges on the shelf right about the crisper on my fridge.
- Leaves have stayed fresh in this system at my home for at least 20 days.
- To most working folk, this whole rigmarole might seem like too much time. Train your maid to do it - my modus operandi! The protocol above is the Standard Operating Procedure for processing all green leafy veggies in my kitchen.
- OK so don't have a maid to do this. Well, you can actually shove the whole bunch, as it is, into a box as described in Step 3. The paper receipts, I have discovered, are excellent at maintaining the right humidity in the box. The annoyance in cutting through Step 2 is that each time you want to use the leaves, you would have to rinse them. I have done this in the past and not seen any difference in longevity if the leaves are not picked. It basically boils down to how much time you have.
- I think the reason this works well is that the receipts and the closed environment somehow keep the leaves at an optimum humidity. Often the receipts are wet to touch after a few days in the fridge. If your receipts are getting too wet ( as wet as if they had gone for a walk in the rain), you can replace them.