Tip of the Month: Cilantro
Did you know that cilantro and coriander are the same plant? Cilantro is used to refer to the leaves used often in Mexican dishes, whereas Coriander refers to the seeds of the same plant that are dried for use. They have totally different flavors.Cilantro develops a large tap root so it does not like to be transplanted, therefore it is best to sow it directly from seeds. If you want to have cilantro on a regular basis, plant seeds several weeks apart; after that the plant should self-seed.
Plant Cilantro in the light shade in the Yucatan or in any very hot region. Intense heat will cause it to seed prematurely and not produce the leaves that are used in Mexican dishes. It prefers well-drained soil and does well in pots. Sow the seeds 1″- 2″ apart in rows 8″ apart. Keep them moist, and the seed should germinate in 10-20 days. Be sure to keep weeds out of the growing area. After the plants are a few inches tall, thin them out to about 4″ apart. The mature plant will grow 1-2 feet tall.
Cilantro does not keep its flavor for long when picked, so be sure to use it fresh.
The fresh leaves are used in salsas and guacamoles. It is also excellent in rice. Cilantro pesto sauce is excellent as an addition to tacos and tamales. It is available as a dip in the grocery store refrigerated section. Cilantro contains anti-oxidants that prevent the growth of bacteria in foods.