Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Nearly every part of the Cilantro plant is used. It is consumed for its leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Each section of the plant offers a different flavor.
Cilantro is native to the Mediterranean though its usage quickly spread throughout the world.
The fresh green seeds have an unsavory smell that does disappear when dried to a sweet and spicy flavored small pale brown seed. Cilantro is also considered a member of the carrot family.
The flavor of Cilantro has a distinguishing, pungent earthy taste similar to a blend of lemon and sage.
Cilantro leaves are best added at the end of cooking or as a garnish on dish. The flavor of Cilantro is quite distinctive; people generally love or dislike the flavor.
The aroma is refreshing, soapy, piney, slightly lemony aroma with mint and pepper overtones.
Cilantro is best added to dishes just before serving as heat can reduce its potency. Great with Chili Pepper, carrot, basil, mint, chicken, beef, tomatoes, avocado, coconut, couscous, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish, shrimp, scallops and mussels.
Cilantro is grown with seeds. Soaking seeds in water before planting will promote sprouting. If grown in a tropical and hot climate, plant in a partly shaded area. If the plants are not provided a sufficient amount of water they can quickly start to seed.
The best time for seed sprouting is when the temperature has been consistently warm (68⁰F) for a few weeks. If growing cilantro for its leaves, put it in light shade. If you want seeds, both sun and a little water will make it seed easily.
Cilantro does not like extreme heat, if it experiences this is, it will start to seed. Cilantro in the garden attracts pollinators such as bees.
It is said that Cilantro will create a larger crop of seeds if grown with anise. It is advisable not to grow near fennel as the fennel will be unlikely to sprout or seed.
The seed of Cilantro was used in Chinese cooking more than 5000 years ago and was mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. It was used extensively in the Elizabethan times but fell out of fashion until last century when there was a rise in popularity of Indian and Caribbean cuisines. Cilantro seeds were placed in Tutankhamen’s tomb.
In AD812 the Emperor Charlemagne ordered for Cilantro, as well as 70 other herbs to be grown on Imperial farms.
Its use in Chinese medicine is first recorded in the Han dynasty.
In the Middle Ages Cilantro was used in love potions. In recent years, a study was done in Japan and Russia showing that it contained a substance that killed bacteria. Traditionally it has been used as a stomach tonic.
Inhaling the aroma of freshly crushed seeds was said to help cure dizziness in the ancient time.
In the past Cilantro has been used to treat migraines and indigestion to help purify the blood and to relieve nausea, pain in joints and rheumatism. It has been suggested by research that Cilantro assists in cleansing the body of lead, aluminum and mercury.
Facts About Cilantro
Cilantro seeds are added to many medicines, making them more palatable.
A young plant, if bruised, gives out a strong odor that has been linked with bedbugs. When the plant matures this odor is lost completely.
What is the Difference between cilantro and coriander?
They come from the same plant, in general coriander is the seed of the plant and cilantro is the leaf. However in Australia all sections are referred to as coriander.
Does Cilantro self-seed?
The seed will self-seed though you can help it along. To maximize the chance of germination, rub the fruit with two hands to separate the two seeds in the fruit pod and then place the seed in some clean water.
Can you freeze Cilantro?
There are multiple methods in how you can freeze Cilantro, one is to chop it up in a food processor, add olive oil and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze. Once frozen, the cubes can then be used individually. The second method is to put the Cilantro into a zip lock bag and squeeze all the air out of it, put this in another bag and then put in the freezer.
Help! My Cilantro keeps seeding!
Cilantro starts to seed when it experiences too high heat conditions and too little water. To avoid this, plant your Cilantro in a partly shaded area and provide the plant with ample water.