A fast-growing annual from the eastern Mediterranean, cilantro (or coriander) is used as both an herb and spice. It has long been favored as a culinary plant throughout Eurasia and is now a vital flavor in Latin American cuisines. Its leaves have a strong taste that people either love or hate. Some believe this is attributable to the sensitivity of a person’s taste buds. “Supertasters” tend to dislike cilantro while coriander is generally liked by most.
Typically sown in spring, this herb forms a clump of lobed, parsley-like leaves (cilantro) that add zest to soups, salads, beans, and other foods. Leaves are ready for harvest 4 to 7 weeks after sowing. Flat clusters of pinkish-white flowers appear on branching ferny-leaved stems in summer, followed by spherical ribbed fruits. The fragrant fruits (coriander) ground and used as a spice for curries, baked goods and sauces. Fruits ripen 2 to 3 months after sowing. The roots are used in Thai foods.
This easy-to-grow annual prefers full to partial sun and well-drained soil with average fertility. Sow the seeds in spring after the danger of frost has passed. Cilantro is best harvested before plants bloom and coriander can be harvested when the fruits are almost dry. Plants often self-sow if some mature fruits are left on the plants. Cultivars are available that are slow or quick to flower and fruit, thereby optimizing their use as cilantro or coriander. Enjoy this plant in herb gardens, containers, or vegetable gardens.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
White, Light Pink
Green, Light Green
Pick leaves as needed, starting on the outside of the plant. Lower leaves offer the most pungent flavor. When flowers appear, flavor is past its peak. To store foliage, place stems in a glass of water in the refrigerator. Cooking diminishes flavor; add leaves to cooked dishes just before serving. Flowers are edible, but if allowed to set seed, produce coriander. Harvest seed heads when color changes from green to brown. Hang seed stems upside down in paper bags to dry; bags will catch seeds. Store seeds in airtight containers. Crush coriander with a mortar to release full flavor.