Beginner’s Guide to Cilantro Herb
Cilantro herb is a wonderful addition to any herb garden for at least one big reason: cilantro is two herbs in one. The cilantro plant is actually responsible for two different herbs – cilantro, which comes from the leaves of the plant, and coriander, which comes from the seeds.
Facts About Cilantro Herb
Cilantro herb is a dark green, leafy plant that resembles Chinese parsley. It is native to Asia and the Mediterranean, but cilantro plants grow nicely anywhere. The cilantro leaves are used abundantly in Mexican and Spanish cooking. While the coriander seeds are popular in Asian dishes and some hardy seasonal recipes.
The cilantro plant is a bushy herb with medium-sized leaves and can grow up to 3-feet tall. It is fairly full, so it does best with a bit of space. This plant will do fine in an outdoor herb garden, but it is also well-suited to an indoor herb patch as well.
Planting Cilantro Herb
As stated above, cilantro needs some space to grow to it heartiest. Keep that in mind when choosing a location for this herb. Cilantro can be grown in pots or directly in the garden, and a good potting soil is usually sufficient for their nutritional needs. Each plant should be spaced about 6 inches from the last in a garden. You can get 3 or 4 pots and put 1 cilantro plant in each pot.
Cilantro likes the sun but does best in locations with both sun and shade. This plant is very adaptable to most soil conditions and can even do pretty well is dry conditions. They do like a well-drained locale, so be sure to keep them away from any parts of the garden that may become waterlogged.
Growing Cilantro Herb
As with most herbs, cilantro is fairly easy to grow and makes a wonderful – and pretty – addition to both inside and outside gardens. Cilantro plants only need to be watered once or twice each week, and regular rainfall is usually just fine for plants in an outside garden. These plants do not require much feeding, and will thrive with fertilizer treatments just once or twice per season.
The leaves of the cilantro plant are a rich, deep green color and healthy plants will be full-leaved, robust and have a fresh, earthy smell. The cilantro leaf is ready to be plucked when it is around an inch or so long. They should be picked in clumps – stem and all, and then chopped up for use in the kitchen. The leaves can be stored in the refrigerator, but they should be wrapped well in order to maintain their freshness.
Coriander seeds are made from the small white flowers of the cilantro plant, and the plants do not flower until at least their second year. Once the flowers do appear, they are picked and dried. The flower head itself gives forth the coriander seeds.
Uses for Cilantro and Coriander
Cilantro is a widely used herb in popular Mexican dishes like salsa and guacamole. It is also commonly used in salads and with other greens for its distinct flavor. Cilantro has a very distinctive taste, and it can overpower the dish if too much is added. Always taste as you go and use the cilantro to your own preference.
Coriander is a hearty spice that is found most prominently in curry. Around the holidays, it is also common to use coriander in tasty breads and also in some types of cakes.