The Cilantro One Sheet: Everything You Need To Know About Cilantro

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an herb commonly used in cooking. It is native to regions of Southern Europe, North Africa, and Southwest Asia. The herb has a distinctive flavor that is often described as citrusy, slightly sweet, and slightly peppery.

Cilantro is used in dishes from all different kinds of cuisines and cultures, including Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisines. It is most commonly used in salsas, curries, and stir-fries. The leaves and stems of the cilantro plant are typically used in cooking, while the seeds are used as a spice.

Cilantro and coriander are often confused. They are both parts of the same plant, Coriandrum sativum. The term “coriander” typically refers to the seeds of the plant, while “cilantro” refers to the leaves and stems.

Cilantro has a bright, citrusy flavor and is often used in Latin American and Asian cuisine. It is typically used fresh, as the flavor can diminish quickly when cooked. Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley or Mexican parsley.

Coriander seeds, on the other hand, have a warm, slightly sweet and nutty flavor. They are often used in spice blends and are a common ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisine. The seeds can be used whole or ground, and they are often roasted before use to enhance their flavor.

In summary, cilantro and coriander are different parts of the same plant and have distinct flavors and culinary uses. Cilantro is the leafy part of the plant, while coriander refers to the seeds.

Best outdoor temperature for growing cilantro?

Cilantro is a cool-weather herb that prefers mild temperatures for optimal growing and thriving. The ideal temperature range for growing cilantro outdoors is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cilantro is known to bolt or produce flowers and seeds prematurely in hot temperatures. So, it’s best to avoid growing cilantro during the hotter months of the year. If the temperature rises above 75 degrees, cilantro will become stressed, and the leaves will start to turn yellow and wilt.

What is the best way to harvest cilantro?

Cilantro is best harvested when the plant is about 6-8 inches tall, usually taking 3-4 weeks after planting. Here are the steps to harvest cilantro:

  1. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut the stems of the cilantro plant just above the point where the leaves meet the stem.
  2. Choose the outer leaves first, leaving the inner leaves to grow and mature.
  3. Harvest the cilantro in the morning when the plants are hydrated, and the essential oils are at their highest concentration.
  4. You can harvest the leaves as needed or cut the entire plant down to about an inch above the soil to encourage new growth.
  5. After harvesting, rinse the cilantro leaves in cool water and pat them dry with a clean towel.
  6. Store the cilantro in a sealed container or plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.

It’s best to harvest cilantro frequently to prevent the plant from bolting, which can cause the leaves to become bitter and tough. By harvesting regularly, you’ll also encourage the plant to produce new growth, giving you a continuous supply of fresh cilantro.

How much light does cilantro need to grow?

Cilantro needs a moderate amount of light to grow properly. It prefers bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade, especially in warmer climates. Cilantro typically needs about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day, but too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to wilt or the plant to bolt.

If you’re growing cilantro indoors, you can place it near a window that receives bright, indirect light. You can also use grow lights to supplement natural light if needed. A good rule of thumb is to provide the plant with 2-6 hours of light per day, either from natural or artificial sources.

Cilantro generally prefers cooler temperatures and may struggle in hot, dry environments. Providing the plant with the right amounts of light, water, and temperature will help it thrive. 

Should I water cilantro every day?

Cilantro prefers consistently moist soil, but it’s important not to overwater it. Overwatering can lead to root rot, harming the plant’s health. The frequency of watering cilantro depends on the temperature, humidity, and the type of soil it’s planted in.

Generally, you should water cilantro when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. This may be every 2-3 days in warm weather or every 4-5 days in cooler weather. It’s important to avoid letting the soil dry out completely, but also try to prevent water from pooling on the soil’s surface.

What Does Cilantro Taste Like?

Cilantro has a distinctive, pungent flavor that is difficult to describe. Some people love it, while others find it disgusting and unappetizing. Cilantro’s taste is often described as citrusy, slightly sweet, and slightly peppery. The herb has a fresh, green flavor that is often used to add complexity and vibrancy to dishes.

The ultimate cilantro debate is with people who perceive a soapy or metallic taste when they eat cilantro. Interestingly, this disdain for cilantro comes from a genetic variation that affects the way certain people’s taste buds interpret the chemical compounds in cilantro. 

What is the best way to plant cilantro?

Cilantro can be grown from seeds or transplants, and both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

Planting cilantro from seeds is generally more cost-effective, as a packet of seeds can produce many plants. Additionally, cilantro seeds are easy to germinate and can be sown directly in the garden bed or in containers. However, cilantro can be finicky when it comes to transplanting, and it doesn’t always transplant well and if you are purchasing cilantro online you should note it does not always travel well.

Planting cilantro from transplants, on the other hand, can be more convenient for gardeners who want to skip the germination process. Transplants are already established plants that are ready to be planted in the garden or containers.

  1. Choose When To Plant: Choose the right time of year to plant. If you live in a more hot and dry climate, aim for late fall or early spring. If you live in a more Northern climate, aim for late spring. 
  2. Choose Where To Plant & Place Your Garden: Prepare your garden in a place that will receive full, direct sunlight. If you live in Texas, your garden will tolerate light shade as well. 
  3. Choose Your Container: Choose a container for your cilantro garden. Cilantro plants need a container that is deep and wide. For growing cilantro in a pot, choose a container that is 18 inches wide, and at least 10-12 inches deep. If you’re growing your garden in a Gardenuity grow bag, you won’t need to worry about deliberating over the perfect pot; we have already solved that problem for you!
  4. Plant Your Seeds / Transplants: Plant your cilantro seeds, also known as coriander seeds. Sow the seeds about 0.6cm deep, spaced 6-8 inches apart. If you are growing in a raised bed, you will want your rows to be about 1 foot apart. When you are planting fully rooted young cilantro plants that are well on the way to maturity it is good to water the root ball prior to planting.  Cilantro has a lengthy taproot, which shoots out from the stem. Be gentle when planting cilantro as this will help ensure growing success. 

What are good growing companions for cilantro? 

Cilantro grows best when paired with aphid-repellent plants, as well as plants that produce a large amount of nitrogen for the soil. Consider growing your cilantro with the following plants:

  • Chervil
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Alyssum
  • String Beans

Avoid planting your cilantro near herbs such as lavender, thyme, or rosemary.

Our favorite recipes with cilantro?

Is cilantro good for you? 

Yes, very much so! Cilantro is a nutritious herb that is good for you. It is low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to your diet. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of cilantro:

  • Vitamins and minerals: Cilantro is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron.
  • Antioxidants: Cilantro contains antioxidants, such as quercetin and kaempferol, which can help protect against cell damage and inflammation.
  • Digestive health: Cilantro has been shown to have antibacterial properties that may help promote healthy digestion and prevent gastrointestinal infections.
  • Heart health: Cilantro has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects and may help improve heart health.
  • Blood sugar control: Cilantro may help regulate blood sugar levels, benefiting people with diabetes.

Where Does Cilantro Get It’s Name From?

Cilantro comes from the Spanish word “cilantro,” derived from the Latin word “Coriandrum.” Coriandrum is also the scientific name for the coriander plant, which is the name used for the plant’s seeds. In Spanish, the term “cilantro” refers specifically to the fresh leaves and stems of the coriander plant.

The use of cilantro in cooking can be traced back to ancient times, and it has been used in various cuisines around the world, including Latin American, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. The herb is prized for its distinctive flavor and aroma, and it is used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and sauces.

What is one thing you might not know about cilantro? 

One interesting fact about cilantro is that it contains a compound called linalool, which has been found to have sedative properties. Linalool is also found in lavender and is known for its calming effects, which may help explain why some people find the aroma of cilantro to be soothing. Additionally, research suggests that linalool may have other health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain. It is being studied for its potential as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression. So, in addition to being a flavorful and nutritious herb, cilantro may also have some surprising health benefits.

Some More Fun Facts About Cilantro…

  • Cilantro is known by different names in different countries. In the United Kingdom, it is known as coriander, while in some parts of Asia, it is called Chinese parsley.
  • The entire cilantro plant is edible, including the leaves, stems, and seeds. The seeds are known as coriander and have a different flavor than the leaves.
  • Cilantro has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Some people have a genetic variation that makes cilantro taste like soap to them. This phenomenon is believed to be due to a group of olfactory-receptor genes that are responsible for detecting the aldehyde compounds found in cilantro.
  • Cilantro is a common ingredient in many popular dishes, including salsa, guacamole, curries, and soups.
  • Cilantro is a natural insect repellent and has been shown to repel pests such as aphids, spider mites, and potato beetles.
  • In some cultures, cilantro is believed to have aphrodisiac properties and is used in love potions and other romantic recipes.
  • Cilantro is an annual herb, which means that it completes its life cycle in one growing season and must be replanted each year.
  • Cilantro is a cool-weather crop and prefers temperatures between 50-85°F, making it a popular herb to grow in the spring and fall.
  • In addition to its culinary uses, cilantro is also used in the perfume industry as a fragrance ingredient.
  • In some cultures, cilantro is believed to have aphrodisiac properties and is used in love potions and spells.
  • Cilantro has a distinct flavor that is often described as bright, citrusy, and herbaceous. However, some people have a genetic aversion to cilantro and find its flavor and aroma unpleasant or soapy.