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[ 1196 ]Coriandrum sativum

Cilantro Cut & Sifted

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Coriandrum sativum
plant overview
cilantro leaves in tea

Cilantro is a member of the parsley family that is native to Asia and Africa. Its compound leaves are harvested fresh for use in Mexican and Indian cuisines. The dried herb exhibits a much milder flavor that some people find borders on bland. However, dried cilantro used in tea blends or encapsulated as a supplement delivers calcium, potassium and other minerals, as well as several antioxidant compounds, such as limonene and alpha-pinene. See also coriander .

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.

Where in the World

habitat and range for cilantro

Cilantro is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. Cilantro is a cool-season crop, so it prefers a climate that gets no hotter than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. If planted in a warmer area, keep the plant in shade to sustain its growth. Cilantro also prefers dryer soil, as they are susceptible to diseases caused by damp areas or weather.

A Bit of Botany

a little botanical information about cilantro

Cilantro is an annual herb in the Apiaceae family. It is a soft plant growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the centre of the umbel longer (5–6 mm) than those pointing toward it (only 1–3 mm long). The fruit is a globular, dry schizocarp 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) in diameter. The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds.

common names & nomenclature
Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, also deriving from coriandrum. It is the common term in North America for coriander leaves.

Also known as:
chinese parsley, coriander, coriander leaf, coriander cultive, kotambri-beeja, kusbara, hu sui, dhanyaka, dhana, gemeiner coriander, dhane, dhano, haveeja, kishniz, dhanyak, dhania, koriyun, kothimbir, nau-nau kotimiri, kustumbari, kottamalli, kushniz kottampalari, kottumbari, kottmir

Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing and harvesting cilantro

Cilantro grows in full sun with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8; it will tolerate light shade in the South and Southwest where the sun is intense.

Prefers well-drained, fertile soil.

Cilantro needs its own space in the garden where you can harvest and then let it go to seed. Plant it in a bed devoted to herbs where it can reseed, or in a corner of the vegetable garden.

Harvest cilantro’s foliage continually in the cooler months of spring and fall and through winter in areas without hard freezes. Harvest by cutting the leafy stems near ground level; they will be 6 to 12 inches long. Avoid cutting more than one-third of the leaves at one time, or you may weaken the plant.

Harvest the seeds by clipping the brown, round seed heads; place upside down in a paper bag. In a few days, the round husks will dry and split in two, dropping the edible seed inside. Don’t delay seed harvest, or the weak stems will fall over. Dry seeds and leaves thoroughly.

Store dried cut leaves or seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Rest of the Story

additional information

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a flowering plant with feathery leaves that is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. The leaves and seeds of the plant are quite different in characteristics and etymology. As the genus name suggests, this herb is also referred to as coriander. To add to the confusion, the herb is also known in certain regions as Chinese parsley. To clarify, the entire plant, including the seed, is generally referred to as coriander across the globe. In America, however, the leaf of the plant is called cilantro and the seed is known as the spice coriander.

Although handfuls of this herb are tossed into soups, stews and rice and vegetable dishes in Latin America, Asia and Africa, it is not as well received in other regions, particularly North America. According to scientists, people who lack the culinary experience of cilantro may perceive its flavor very differently. This has led to the belief that you either love cilantro, or you hate cilantro. Social media chimes in with a Facebook group I Hate Cilantro and an opposition group of merchandise on Cafepress that states I [Heart] Cilantro.

If you’re at all suspicious of the taste or smell of cilantro, it’s for a very simple and scientific reason. The aroma and flavor of the herb is due to the presence of fat molecules called aldehydes, the same molecules produced as a byproduct from making soap. So, unless you’re accustomed to a Mediterranean diet that has included plenty of cilantro for a period of time, your brain searches for previous culinary and olfactory experiences as a frame of reference to make an interpretation. Unfortunately, the only comparison some people can come up with is the smell of soap or hand lotion.

Should this stop you from getting acquainted with the herb? Certainly not! No curry, salsa or guacamole would be complete without at least a small sampling of cilantro to balance the flavors. Remember too that change is good. The same scientists that explain why the brain may repel cilantro when first introduced also say that, with repeated exposure, the brain will rewire itself to form new patterns of experience. Hint: Japanese studies show that crushing the leaf before adding to foods converts the offending aldehydes into aroma-less agents.

Formulas and recipes
Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
- Cook two cups of rice to your preference, preferably aromatic rice like jasmine or basmati
- Once the rice is done cooking, fluff it up with a fork to keep the grains of rice from sticking to one another
- Add the juice of 2-3 limes
- Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Add ¾ cup of chopped cilantro
- Stir this all together, taste as you go, and add more lime if it needs to taste brighter, salt if it needs a bit of sodium to add taste, and more cilantro as you feel the rice needs it!

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised:  Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.

All reviews solely reflect the views and opinions expressed by the reviewer and not that of Monterey Bay Herb Co. We do not verify or endorse any claims made by any reviewer. None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.