Cilantro

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Cilantro is my third pick for the the most essential herbs you should have in your kitchen.

Identifying Cilantro

If you’ve ever been to a Mexican food restaurant then you probably had some cilantro or parsley as a garnish on your plate.

Though the two look very similar they have very different tastes. The easiest why to remember the visual difference is to recognize the leaves.

Parsley starts with a P and it has pointy leaves

parsley-leaf

Cilantro starts with a C and it has curved leaves.

cilantro-leaf

Eating Cilantro

Cilantro is actually the grown leaf form of Coriander. It is one of the most controversial herbs out there. To many it has a fresh somewhat citrusy flavor, but to others is tastes horrible and much like eating soap. Even though Coriander and Cilantro are technically the same plant they do have different flavors. So, you may like one but not the other.

If you’ve never tried it before you’ll want to eat some before putting it in or on any dish. Same goes for coriander.

To prepare your cilantro for eating you should always rinse it first. Here’s some simple steps to prepare your cilantro:

  1. Before chopping, dunk and swish cilantro in a bowl or water holding it by the stems.
  2. Shake off the excess water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Use a sharp knife and start slicing at the stem end.

Cilantro has a powerful aroma which makes it an excellent seasoning for Mexican & Caribbean dishes. It’s great in salsas and guacamole.

Health Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro is high in several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C. This makes it a good antioxidant. It is also a revitalizing herb and for many it can aid in digestion and may act as an anti-inflammatory.

Cilantro is a natural and powerful cleaning agent and is often cited as being effective for the cleansing of toxic metals.

Coriander seeds are known to help with digestion and other health benefits. They can help improve insulin production, regulate blood sugar, and reduce stress in the liver and pancreas.

Growing Cilantro

You can grow your own cilantro and coriander either indoors or outdoors. Cilantro can grow year round as long as you continually replant new coriander seeds that are produced from the plant. You’ll also need to prevent them from being exposed to extreme heat or frost.

You can harvest the cilantro leaves as needed. To harvest coriander you have to wait for the seed stalks to grow and turn brown. At this point you can clip then and place them upside down in a brown paper bag. The seed pods will split after a few days and release the coriander seeds.

It’s best to clean out the dead leaves, stalks, and other debris from around the plant to help reduce the chances of fungus and infection. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for parasites like aphids which love to eat young stems.

Germination takes 7 – 10 days and you should be able to harvest in three to four weeks. Provide full sun light but in extremely hot environments it works best to give them morning sun and evening shade.

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