Daily Archives: August 25, 2008

The Usefulness of Cilantro

Cilantro Flowers
Cilantro is a mainstay of our cooler season garden. We love having it in meals and it also provides a pretty green spot in our garden. But besides eating the leaves, did you know about all the other parts you can eat? And did you know that it’s thought to be an aphrodisiac? And helps with digestion? And is the oldest herb mentioned in literature? Who knew?

We typically grow cilantro from seed in late winter and fall and it always grows healthy and large. We put it in full sun and provide it with moist soil and it grows to about a foot tall. During the times when we’re really on top of it, we’ll plant a handful of seeds every few weeks so we have a constant supply of it. But once we have had our fill and the season starts to change, it sends up these beautiful white flowers.
Coriander
After the flowers come, they develop little round seed pods that when dried are commonly called coriander in America. In other countries both the leaves as well as the seedpods can be called coriander, so make sure to read your recipes carefully to find out what part of the plant they mean. Dried coriander seeds are commonly used in Indian curries. We’ve tied ours upside down until they fully dry. We’re looking forward to some delicious curries this winter.

While I knew about eating the leaves and seeds, I just found out that you can also eat the roots. I read about that in Ruth Reichl’s book, Comfort Me With Apples(which is a fantastic read). On her trip to Thailand, she discovers them making stir fries with cilantro root. We haven’t tried this yet, has anyone else? At first glance, they don’t look especially appetizing, but we should give it a try one of these days.
Cilantro Roots
The taste of cilantro is pretty distinct. Do you like it? Or do you hate cilantro? You might not if you are of European heritage. It’s been said that those of European descent don’t care for it, and thinking of it, cilantro or coriander has never been a big hit in Europe. My mom can’t stand the stuff, but me, oh I really enjoy it. What do you think of it?

Update: If you are having troubles with your cilantro bolting, you may want to try this Slow Bolt Cilantro variety.

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