Cilantro and coriander are the same plant; the leafy green cilantro is an herb, and the coriander seed is a spice. Cilantro leaves contain antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber. It is a great source of vitamin K and potassium.
Ideal growing conditions
Direct sow cilantro seeds 6-8 inches apart in well-drained soil that receives full sun, or partial sun if you live in a hot climate. Cilantro bolts easily and quickly, and does not do well in the heat of the summer, but if you let it bloom and produce seeds, it will reseed itself during the season (and in the spring). If you do not let it go to seed, re-seed it every few weeks to maintain a steady crop.
Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate; don’t overwater them once they are established. You may want to pinch back young plants to encourage their growth.
Harvesting, using, and preserving
To harvest cilantro, pick the taller leaves, and leave the shorter leaves to mature. Or, you may pull the entire plant. To freeze the leaves, place them in a Ziploc bag, or encase them in ice cubes or cubes of oil. To dry cilantro, hang the plant upside down in a paper bag in a warm, dry place, then store the dried leaves in a container.
Cilantro is best eaten fresh, though. To maximize flavour, add it to dishes at the last minute. It is delicious when added to Mexican or Indian dishes, and soups. Try adding it to guacamole or hummus.
To harvest coriander, hang the entire plant, seeds and all, upside down in a paper bag in a dry, warm place. Once the plant is dry, shake it to remove the seeds if they do not fall off. Place the dry seeds in a container. You can also store fresh coriander seeds in the refrigerator.
Cilantro attracts beneficial insects to the garden and discourages pests such as aphids and potato beetles. To use it for pest control, let it develop blossoms.
It’s also a good companion for:
- Cilantro has been used for centuries in many cuisines across the world, though it is thought to originate from North Africa or the Middle East.
- It is used as a sleep and digestion aid.