Types & Cultivation

Cilantro / Coriander


Cilantro is also known as a Coriander Plant, Chinese Parsley, Yeun Sai and Japanese Parsley. It is readily available fresh or dried in most grocery markets.

Cilantro is used in many cuisine around the world. Most notably it is used to enliven Mexican and South American food as well as as Thai and Vietnamese.

This is a multiethnic herb that is used in everything from delicate Asian spring rolls to substantial Mexican dishes. Cilantro is the leaf part of the coriander plant. It's unique flavor is quite distinctive and can liven up even a simple chicken broth.

Cilantro has a faint overtone of anise and a somewhat delicate peppery taste. Use cilantro in tacos, salsas, soups, stews, chicken and rice, salads, tomato based sauces and as a garnish. Use sparingly.

The coriander seed can be used in tomato chutney, raratouille, frankfurtes and curries; also in apple pies, cakes, buscuits and marmalade. Whole seeds may also be added to soups, sauces and vegetable dishes. The seeds are often used in Middle Eastern, southern Asian, as well as Latin American cuisines. In India, both coriander seeds and leaves are extensively used in curries and spice mixes.

Cultivation of Cilantro / Coriander

Site: This herb thrives in damp, cool springs and hot, dry summers. It requires mostly sunshine but can be grown in morning sun and shade in the hot afternoon. Choose a site where soil is well-drained and amended with plenty of compost.

Propagation: Plant cilantro where you want it to grow; it quickly develops a deep taproot that doesn't respond well to transplanting. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep after all danger of frost has passed. Cilantro is very short lived and will take a little bit of work in your herb garden. To ensure a steady supply of leaves, sow successive crops every three weeks until late summer. In containers, as in the ground, direct seeding is best. If you must have pot started plants from the nursery, be sure they're growing in peat pots that can go into the soil, leaving the roots undisturbed.

Growing: When plants emerge, thin them to 4 inches apart and mulch to conserve moisture and deter weeds. Keep a close eye on young plants to make sure they don't dry out. Once established, it needs just a little water. Like most herbs, cilantro performs well in containers, but choose pots that are at least 12 inches deep to accommodate the plant's taproot. Use potting soil enriched with compost and water regularly.

Harvesting: You can grow this Mediterranean native for its leaves, which are known as cilantro, or for its dried seeds, called coriander. To harvest Cilantro, you can begin cutting as soon as the plant is about 6" tall by removing the outer leaves and leaving the growing point intact for the new leaves to grow from. Or you can harvest entire plants when they're about 6 inches high if you want only the leaves. If the target you want is the seeds; wait until the seeds start to ripen, in late summer or early autumn. Then cut the plants off at the base and hang them upside down in paper bags to finish drying.

Culinary Uses: Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley is a staple herb of both Asian and Mexican cuisine. Coriander seed has no similarity in taste to cilantro leaf. Ground coriander is used in desserts as well as in curries, meat, and seafood dishes. Add it to stews and marinades for a distinctive Mediterranean flavor.

Types of Herbs