The Complete Guide To Cilantro
What’s The Difference Between Cilantro And Coriander?
Cilantro is sometimes referred to as coriander. Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, but cilantro refers to the leaves and coriander is the seed. While cilantro is popular as an ingredient in salsa, it has many uses. Cilantro gives any meal a flavorful combination of sage and citrus.
How to Grow Cilantro
Cilantro is in the same family as parsley. The cilantro leaves are light green and flat with a feathered edge. Here are a few cilantro facts:
- It is a fast growing but short-lived annual that reaches a foot tall.
- Tolerates temperatures as low as 10 degrees, but performs best at temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees.
- Growing cilantro may be difficult in warmer climates because the plant has a tendency to bolt early and produce seed.
- Can be planted in the spring and in the fall. Plant every 2 or 3 weeks during the spring and summer for a continuous supply.
- Cilantro leaves are ready to harvest 40 to 60 days after planting.
- Leaves that are left on the plant too long develop a bitter flavor.
Cilantro can be grown from either seed or from transplants. When purchasing transplants, look for small plants that do not have roots growing out the bottom of the pot. Select transplants that have a short taproot because a damaged taproot can stunt plant growth. Here are some guidelines for growing cilantro:
- Cilantro can be grown either in the ground or in containers.
- Plant in moderately rich, well drained soil in full sun to partial shade.
- Sow seeds ½ inch deep and six inches apart.
- Water well while the seeds are germinating and until established. Established plants do not require much water.
- To harvest, cut the stems two inches above the ground. This leaves some of the smaller, immature leaves on the plant so that the plant continues to grow.
- After harvesting, store the harvested stalks “bouquet style” in a glass of water and uncovered in the fridge.
Cooking With Cilantro
Cilantro adds flavor and zest to any dish. Chop fresh leaves and add to foods or use as a garnish. When purchasing cilantro at the produce market, select bunches that have bright green leaves and are aromatic. If there is no aroma, there will be no flavor. Do not purchase wilted bunches or bunches with yellow leaves. Here are some suggestions for cooking with cilantro:
- Add cilantro leaves during the last minute of cooking or just before serving.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves to potato salads, tomato salads, fruit salads and pasta salads.
- Cook chopped leaves and stems in stews and curries.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves to vinaigrettes, marinades, salsas and chutneys.
- Crush cilantro and add to sour cream. Use as a topping for tacos and chili.
- Sprinkle fresh cilantro over stir-fry dishes before serving.
- Leaves can be dried, but do not store well. It is recommended that cilantro be used fresh or frozen.
- Freeze leaves in freezer bags or containers. Will keep for up to a year. Use in cooked foods.
Other Uses For Cilantro
In addition to being a tasty addition to many foods, cilantro has other benefits:
- The coriander plant attracts beneficial and pollinator insects.
- Coriander honey is a popular treat.
- Companion plant to caraway, anise and dill. Do not plant near fennel.
- Cilantro stimulates the appetite and aids in digestion.
- High nutritional value. Good source of thiamin, zinc, calcium, iron and fiber. Also, Vitamins A, C, E and B6.
- It is believed that cilantro can help remove heavy metals and other toxins from the body.
- Cilantro is an anti-inflammatory and contains antioxidants.