Here is something that confuses those who are just now becoming familiar with herbs and spices: coriander or cilantro?
In the US, coriander leaves is commonly referred to as cilantro, a Spanish term that refers to coriander. Americans adopted the term cilantro because it was the Mexicans and Mexican cuisine that introduced this herb to the Americans.
Americans also use the term coriander, but only to refer to the plant’s dried seeds, which is also a type of spice. But outside the US, coriander refers not just to the seeds, but to the plant’s leaves and stems.
Species: C. sativum
Binomial Name: Coriandrum sativum
- Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley and dhania.
Cilantro Buying Guide
You can buy freshly-cut cilantro in the market or the produce section of grocery stores. Do not worry if you are unsure about how to spot cilantro because it is labeled or has a name tag so that you don’t confuse it with other herbs. Buy just enough for use because cilantro that has been in the refrigerator for a week or longer is not ideal or best for cooking or eating. Cilantro tastes best when it is fresh.
Big supermarkets and groceries in Texas have cilantro in the fresh produce section. For example, H-E-B, an American privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas, sells cilantro in stores and through its e-commerce website.
Cilantro Production & Farming in Texas
In Texas, cilantro growers looking to harvest in April start planting by February, while cilantro planted in September will be ready for harvest in November, as long as conditions are suitable for the healthy growth of the plant. For cilantro to achieve optimal growth, fertilizing is necessary, using ½ teaspoon of ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) or urea (21-0-0) per square foot applied twice.
Harvest cilantro by hand. However, commercial growers rely on machine harvesting for faster processing. Cilantro can be harvested 45 to 70 days after planting. Cut the leaf measuring 4 to 6 inches long. Cut the whole plant 2 inches above soil level if you want to use both the small and large cilantro leaves.
Unfortunately, this is not enough. According to Colorado State University (CSU) Food Source Information, the US does not produce enough cilantro to meet the local demand, which is why the US is importing cilantro.
-Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
Cilantro needs the naturally-occurring pesticide neem oil to prevent bacterial leaf spots. Neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree, with a yellowish or brownish color and smells like garlic or sulfur.
Neem oil, along with spinosad, which is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium, is used against cabbage looper. For beet armyworm, the best pesticide is pyrethrins, which is a natural organic compound derived from a plant, preferred by organic farmers. Pyrethrin and neem oil combined is lethal against the green peach aphid.
There are organic remedies for weed problems. For pre-plant, use corn gluten meal, while for post-emergence, use 20% vinegar with cinnamon and clove oil d-limonene.
Cilantro is native to the Eastern Mediterranean region, which explains why this plant thrives in temperate climates. In finding the place where to cultivate cilantro, always consider the fact that the best location for cilantro is tropical or subtropical countries since it thrives best when it gets just enough sun. Keep in mind as well that cilantro grows well on loamy soil and blooms in the spring. Cilantro do well when set on soft, well-tilled, and composted soil.
Mexico is the biggest producer of of cilantro in the world. In the US, California leads all states when it comes to producing cilantro.
After harvest, cilantro is packed in 10-pound boxes with 30 bunches per box before hydro-cooling, which is the process of arresting the ripening of fruits and vegetables after harvesting by immersion in ice or cold water. These boxes are kept in a room with 33-35°F temperature during shipment.
Markets and groceries sell cilantro in bunches. Other stores put cilantro inside clamshell plastic containers to keep the leaves from bruising.
We eat cilantro as a garnish, added to cooked food before it is served, like the Indian red lentil dal curry. It is used for rubs when grilling or baking fish or chicken. Cilantro is also the main ingredient in dishes like green chili and cilantro chicken soup and the seafood dish pipis and cilantro butter.
Cilantro has a tart, lemony taste. However, some dislike the taste of cilantro because it tastes like soap. The molecule found in cilantro is called aldehyde, which is an ingredient to make soap.
Store freshly-cut cilantro in the refrigerator, but not for more than seven days. Dried and powdered cilantro has a longer shelf-life and should be stored in a spice jar and kept in the spice cabinet with its lid closed when not in use to preserve its flavor and aroma.
Eat cilantro fresh or cooked. Cilantro is a central ingredient when cooking chutney, salsa, guacamole, dal, and curry, among others. When cooking cilantro, it is good to remember that heat diminishes the flavor of the cilantro, so do not cook cilantro for too long.
Use cilantro to treat indigestion, nausea, and dysentery. Use it to stimulate the appetite. Cilantro also helps in lowering blood sugar, boosting the immune system, promoting health and brain health, and fighting infections. Cilantro is also useful for menstrual disorders and smallpox.
When Are Cilantro in Season in Texas?
To find out when Cilantro are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.