AN INTRODUCTION TO CILANTRO AND CORIANDER

Cilantro (also known as “Chinese parsley,“ “Coriander leaf” or “fresh coriander”) refers to the fresh leaf and Coriander which is the name for the seeds are parts of the same plant.

We tend to think of the leaves as “herbs” and the seeds and roots as “spices.” However, in much of the world, the entire plant, leaves, roots, and seeds, are known as Coriander.

Cilantro/coriander is an annual herb with feathery leaves and white umbrella flower heads, which means its entire life cycle, from planting, to maturity, to the end of its life, occurs in a single growing season. In other words, annual herbs must be started with new seedlings, or new seeds planted, every year.

Coriander (Cilantro) can be grown for both leaves and seeds. Varieties have been bred to be better at producing one or the other, so the variety you choose is important. A seed variety will produce seed quicker than a leaf variety, but once a plant ‘runs to seed’ it will stop leaf production. If you want coriander leaves for your cooking, this means you will have a shorter picking time. All varieties will eventually produce seed, but the leaf varieties will hold off for longer.

‘Calypso’ which is slow to bolt or ‘Cruiser’ which is bolt-resistant are the generally considered the best for herb production with an excellent ‘cut and come again’ habit,  while ‘Santo’ will produce larger flower heads, thereby producing more seed, and will run to seed more quickly. Whichever variety you, make sure to check if the seeds you are using are ‘seed’ or ‘leaf’ varieties and choose the type which best fits the way your family eats.

Bring your meals to life

Many ethics foods ranging from Latin American to Asian use cilantro and coriander in their daily and festive food. So, there is a wealth of recipe available across many cultures with which to experiment with your garden crop of cilantro and coriander.

How to use cilantro and coriander in the kitchen

As you may have gathered, cilantro is a feature in our favorite meals from around the world. The reason that recipes from all cultures use this herb is that the entire plant is edible.

The seeds, roots, stems, and leaves each have distinct flavors and uses.

Using cilantro (leaves, foliage, and stems)

  • Salads (use leaves)
  • Stews and sauces (use leaves)
  • Soups (use stems and/or leaves)

Using coriander (seeds)

  • Sauces (curries, etc.)
  • Flavoring meat

Using cilantro (Root)

  • Asian seasoning pastes with garlic, salt and green peppercorns
  • Cilantro roots are often combined vegetable and roots like carrots, scallion, tomato paste, coconut milk, citrus, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, Chile peppers
  • Cilantro roots are commonly used meats like chicken, lamb, and goat.

Cilantro And Food Culture Combinations

Cilantro and coriander (seeds) are used in a number of food cuisines including:

  • Chinese Cuisine
    • Star anise, coriander (seeds), fennel, garlic ginger, and pepper
  • Indian Cuisine
    • Cayenne, cardamom, coriander (seeds), cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, saffron, and turmeric
  • Mexico
    • Cilantro (herb, not seeds), cumin, garlic, and oregano
  • Thai Cuisine
    • Anis, basil, coriander (seeds), lemongrass, and mint

Related References

HOW TO DRY CILANTRO AND CORIANDER

Cilantro Leaf

while the most common way to use cilantro, at least in the South and in Latin cuisines, is the use of fresh leaves there are other ways to use cilantro or the seeds (coriander). Cilantro can be dried or frozen or in the case of short-term use refrigerated. Coriander seeds necessarily are used dry, but they can be ground into a powder and uses a spice.

Raw Organic Dry Green Cilantro in a Bowl

Methods of Drying Cilantro Leaves

Drying your Cilantro harvest is easy to do at home and requires no special equipment.  However, you want to be sure to harvester cilantro before the plant begins to bolt for best results. Once the cilantro bolts the leaves change as does the flavor and the texture of the leaves. If your cilantro escapes from you, as mine sometimes does, and has started to flower you might as well let it go ahead and go to seed so you can use the coriander. If you still want cilantro leaves, you should go ahead and succession plant a new crops or if the weather is exceedingly hot consider growing your cilantro indoors in pots or as microgreens.

Traditional Method

Although Cilantro seeds (Coriander) are used most often in the large variety of dishes, dried Cilantro has its place in soups, sauces, and stews.

Equipment Required:

  • Garden or Kitchen shears
  • Basket or another container suitable for Cilantro sprigs
  • Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
  • Rubber Bands
  • Clothes Drying Rack, Dry attic or porch
  • Small Brown Paper Bags (optional)

Method:

  • Gather your Cilantro harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night.
  • Gather the sprigs into small, loose bundles, and bind the stems together with rubber bands to keep them together as they dry. Be sure to space the branches to allow for good air circulation.
  • If using paper bags, cover each bundle and cut small slits the sides to allow for air flow around the Cilantro. These protective paper bags keep dust off of the Cilantro as it dries and stops the Cilantro becoming sunlight bleached.  Ensure that enough air flows through the paper bags to keep your Cilantro from molding.  Occasionally inspect your Cilantro, and, if necessary either cut more holes in the paper bags or remove the Cilantro from the paper bags.  Moisture may build up inside the paper bag, especially if the sun hits it, allowing fungus and mildew to form. Discard any molded leaves or bunches.
  • Hang your Cilantro upside down (leaf ends down) in a warm, dry place such as an attic, pantry, a disused room, or protected porch until the leaves are dry and brittle to the touch, which should take about two weeks.
  • Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.
  • Crumble the dried leaves onto the wax paper and separate all of the tough stems.
  • Pour the Cilantro into a clean, airtight jar, Ziplock freezer bag, or a vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.

Storage:

Airtight jars or pouches can be stored Cilantro in a dry, dark place like your pantry, root cellar, or cupboard.

Uses:

Dried Cilantro and Cilantro can be used in sauces, gravies, dressings, vinaigrettes, chutneys, and a large variety of vegetable dishes.

Oven Drying Cilantro

Cilantro can be dried in the oven at the lowest temperature, or, if you have a gas stove with a pilot light using only the pilot light as the heat source, but this may take a little longer. Spread the cilantro evenly in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Special Note: If using a cookie sheet to dry the Cilantros, place the Cilantros to be dried on parchment paper to avoid direct contact with the metal trays.  Metal contact darkens the color of the Cilantro being dried, causing the Cilantro to lose its bright green color.

Equipment Required:

  • Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
  • Kitchen shears or good chopping knife
  • Chopping board or block
  • Parchment Paper
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Oven

Directions:

  • Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Cilantro sprigs.
  • Pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.
  • Using your ovens lowest temperature setting and preheat the oven.
  • Dice the cilantro into 1/4″ pieces onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or spread the whole leaves in a thin layer on the paper.
  • Place in oven on evenly spaced racks for two to four hours or until Cilantro crumbles easily rubbed between your fingers. Your actual drying times vary a little from one day to the next.
  • Check the drying progress after about 30 minutes, and then at 15-minute intervals until the leaves feel dry and flaky. Remove from the oven to cool.
  • Shape the parchment paper into a funnel and place the smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar or a vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.
Electric Food Dehydrator
Electric Food Dehydrator

Drying Cilantro In A dehydrator

Soak your Cilantro herbs in a bowl of water. Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Cilantro sprigs. Next, remove the stems of the leaves. Some people prefer to dry their herbs without removing the stems; it is a matter of personal preference.
Layout the cleaned leaves on dehydrator trays in a single layer–they can touch, but not overlapping. They will not stick together when they are dried.
You should process these in your favorite dehydrator at 110° for approximately 1 to 3 hours. Cilantro leaves dry fairly quickly, so, will want to check then frequently. You’ll know they are done when the leaves are crisp and crumble between your fingers.

Dry Coriander Seeds
Dry Coriander Seeds

Dried Coriander Sееdѕ

  • Clip the seed heads from the mature Coriander plant as soon as you notice that the flower heads are starting to set seeds. Sееdѕ usually mature rather quickly, so act quickly.
  • Gather the clipped seed heads into loose bundles and secure with a rubber band.
  • Cover the seed pod bundles with paper bags and hang upside down in an airy, dry place to dry.  The seed should separate from the seed heads within a few weeks.
  • Shake the dried Cilantro paper bags to loosen any other seeds and pour onto a piece of wax paper or parchment paper.
  • Remove the stems and any other debris to separate the seeds and pour into a small spice container for use in the kitchen or for planting in the Spring!
Dry Herbs and Spices On A Shelf
Dry Herbs and Spices On A Shelf

Storage:

  • Place jar or pouch in a dry, dark place such as your kitchen cabinet, pantry or even your freezer.
  • Dried Cilantro will last as long as any other dried Cilantro you buy—as long as two years.

Related References

Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley

Is it an herb or a spice?

The coriander plant is both an herb (cilantro leaves) and a spice (coriander seeds).

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a very fast-growing herb which can be grown just about anywhere. Cilantro is a relative of the carrot family, sometimes called Chinese parsley, or Coriander. Cilantro is the leaves, roots, and stems (eaten as herbs) of the Coriander plant, while the seeds (coriander) are used in cooking as a spice.

Cilantro has a very strong unique odor and is relied on heavily for Latin, Asian, and Caribbean cuisines. Cilantro, also, resembles Parsley in appearance which is not surprising since they are related. Cilantro has been in use a long time in Egypt, India, and China, and later it was introduced to Latin America where it is still used today.

Cilantro can and has been used to mask the scent of rotting meat. Cilantro has two identities since Cilantro is what the plant is referred to in its earliest stages, and when it is fully developed and sets seed, which is the Coriander spice. Cilantro is fast growing grows very quickly but will bolt in hot weather and die  fast also.

Cilantro can easily grow in a pot, or as microgreens. Cilantro is best harvested early and frequently before the onset of bolt or flowers.  Once the bolt or flowers begin, it is best to let it go to seed And harvest the seed for coriander or stock seed for the next planting.

Today, Cilantro can be found in most grocery stores in the United States both as fresh green or as dried herbs. Not everyone likes Cilantro. Generally, people either love Cilantro or hate Cilantro.

Life Span

  • Annual

Scientific Name

  • Coriandrum sativum

Height

  • 24 to 36 inches of inches leaves look

Spread

  • 6 inches

Description

  • The bright green, lacy leaves look very similar to flat-leaved Italian parsley on the lower part of the plant but become more finely fernlike further up. This large annual has a leaf and root flavor that is a cross between sage and a citrus. The seeds, however, are simply citrus like.

Ease of care:

  • Easy

How to grow:

  • Plant in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Coriander plants are best located where they are protected from the wind since they blow over easily.
Flowering Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley
Flowering Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley

Propagation:

  • By seed, once the soil is warm in spring. This service a cool weather loving herb, when the weather turns warm it will Bolt and go to seed

Culinary Uses

Cilantro Herb
Cilantro Herb
  • Fresh or frozen leaves (Cilantro) can be used on potatoes, rice, clams and oysters or chicken. Fresh leaves are frequently used in salsas and on chicken soup.
spice (coriander seeds)
spice (coriander seeds)
  • Seeds (Coriander)  can be used in marinades, cheeses, pickles, mushrooms, stews, curries, chicken, quickbreads, potpourris
  • Fresh roots can be used in salads, relishes

Preservation

  • Harvest only fresh, young leaves and freeze them promptly.
  • Harvest seeds when they have turned brown but are not yet released.
  • Cutoff whole plant and hang-dry inside paper bags to catch seeds.

Related References