When it comes to the herb, Cilantro, either you love it or you hate it. I happen to enjoy the flavor and use it in quite a few recipes. However, I found that growing cilantro can be a bit of a challenge for me. With that being said, here are some tips I have discovered over the years to help us all grow, harvest, store and most importantly, cook with cilantro.
Tips on Growing and Cooking with Cilantro
Cilantro is a very popular herb that you either love or you hate. The flat, parsley-like leaves add a wonderful, distinctive flavor to guacamole, salsa and other Mexican recipes. I especially love using it in marinades!
For many years I thought I was in the "hate group" when it came to cilantro. But then I tasted my friend Jani's Homemade Salsa recipe that I shared on this site a few years ago. I was completely shocked that the herb that made this recipe taste so amazing was something I thought I hated.
Is Cilantro the Same as Coriander?
Here's a fact I did not know...leafy cilantro and coriander seeds have entirely differently flavors and aromas. Yet they come from the same plant!
- For the most part, seeds from cilantro can be ground into a powder or used whole in many popular Indian recipes.
- The leafy part of cilantro can have a very lively citrusy and, to some, a slightly soapy flavor.
- On the other hand, coriander seeds are sweet and toasty with a warm aroma and flavor.
Tips for Growing
Cilantro is extremely fast and easy to grow from seed. In fact, it takes only 3-4 weeks from the time the seeds are planted before you can start to enjoy this versatile culinary treasure. Follow these easy tips for growing in your vegetable or herb garden.
- Like most herbs, cilantro prefers a spot in full sun, with a little afternoon shade in hot regions.
- It also performs best in well-drained, moist soil. Raised beds or containers are ideal locations for cilantro and other culinary herbs as long as they receive adequate water.
- It's a fast grower and will bolt, or set seeds, quickly in hot weather.
- To extend harvests throughout the growing season, keep reseeding your garden bed or container every 2 or 3 weeks as this will ensure you have a steady supply of fresh cilantro leaves all season long.
Tips for Harvesting
- To harvest, cut the leafy stems almost to ground level.
- For healthy, strong plants leave ⅔ of the plant intact and allow it to regenerate before harvesting again.
- It's best to enjoy fresh, but it doesn’t last long once cut.
- Cut stems placed in a jar filled with water on your counter will last about a week.
- You can extend its life by placing the jar in the refrigerator with a sandwich bag placed loosely over the top of the leaves.
- Freshly picked, it can last up to 3 to 4 weeks using this method.
Tips for Storing
For the most part, drying is not recommended because too much of the flavor is lost in the process. As a result, freezing is recommended. You can definitely use the same method of freezing that I shared with you for Basil Ice Cubes.
- Wash, dry and chop then toss with some olive oil.
- Spoon into ice cube trays and freeze.
- Store frozen cubes in freezer bags,
- Use cubes as starters for salsa, guacamole or other recipes.
Tips for Cooking
- Cilantro doesn’t hold up well to the heat of cooking.
- Therefore, it is best added right at the end or in cold dishes like salsa or guacamole.
- My favorite recipes are Homemade Salsa.
- It also tastes great adding it to a marinade for chicken or steak.