Cilantro – The Perennial Answer to Fresh Cilantro
Cilantro is not coriander. It has long leaves with sharp tips and serrated edges. When it comes to flavor, cilantro is like cilantro, multiplied by ten.
In warmer climates, above Zone 7, the royal coriander plant can be re-seeded and cultivated commercially, collecting the leaves as they appear. In zone 7 and below, the climate is seasonally ideal for coriander, so many people buy the plant expecting it to produce leaves for an extended period, but it won’t. The reason is that the coriander, in heat, is working to expend its energies to become seed, coriander. The leaves are herbs, the seeds are spices as a general rule of thumb to understand the difference between the two.
The solution for a heat producing perennial coriander is the Coriander plant – Ergyngium foetidum. Cilantro is a biennial herb grown throughout the Caribbean and Central America, and is a key ingredient in Puerto Rican cuisine. It is relatively unknown in the United States and is often confused with its relative coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.). It is also known by many other names, such as Puerto Rican coriander, black benny, saw blade herb, Mexican coriander, sawtooth coriander, long coriander, prickly coriander, green herb, and spirit herb. In Puerto Rico it is known as recao. When grown, cilantro thrives in shady conditions and with good watering. It belongs to the same plant family as coriander, but it looks quite different. The long, tough leaves smell very similar to coriander (with much more flavor), making it a respectable summer substitute for coriander, which prefers cooler weather.
Coriander can be planted in pots or in the ground. If planted in the ground, this herb will continue to reproduce for an almost infinite supply. Cilantro is relatively free of pests and diseases. It is rumored to be attractive to beneficial insects such as ladybugs, green lacewings and provides excellent defense in the garden against aphids. In the kitchen it is used to season sauces, softritos, chutney, ceviche, sauces, rice, stews and soups. To harvest, remove
the older leaves to the base of the plant, allowing the new and young leaves to grow. The leaves can be chopped and used fresh or frozen to maintain their flavor.
Unlike coriander, coriander does not shed, it produces seeds, but the foliage remains aromatic and tasty. It is a tender perennial that can be wintered in a pot or cut and mulched in the fall.
Cilantro is the answer for those who enjoy cilantro but live in a hot / warm climate and want freshness all spring / summer and fall.