Categories:Herbs, Spices and Seasoning Hints & Tips
Cilantro – What is Cilantro?
Photos from Iowa State University Extension.
Cilantro or coriander not only has two common names, but two entirely different identities and uses. Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum, describes the first or vegetative stage of the plant’s life cycle. After the plant flowers and develops seeds, it is referred to as coriander.
Cilantro (sih-LAHN-troh)is the Spanish word for coriander leaves. It is also sometimes called Chinese or Mexican parsley. Technically, coriander refers to the entire plant. It is a member of the carrot family.
Most people either LOVE IT or HATE IT. Taste experts aren’t sure why, but for some
people the smell of fresh coriander is fetid and the taste soapy. In other words, while most people love coriander, for some people, coriander just doesn’t taste good.
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves are widely used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, where they are combined with chilies and added to salsas, guacamoles, and seasoned rice dishes.
When purchasing, look for leaves that are tender, aromatic, and very green. If it has no aroma, it will have no flavor. Avoid wilted bunches with yellowing leaves. Fresh cilantro does not keep well, and the flavor of dried is not comparable.
To store fresh coriander, pick out any wilted leaves, and put it in a jar with water like a bunch of flowers. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag and put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Change the water every two days or so, picking out any wilted leaves when you do.
Coriander – what is Coriander?
Coriander is the dried seed of the cilantro. The seeds are round like tiny balls. They are used whole or ground as a flavoring for food and as a seasoning. The seeds are used in curries, curry powder, pickles, sausages, soups, stews, and ratatouille.
The essential seed oil is used in various herbal remedies and dietary supplements, and to flavor gin, vermouth, liqueurs, tobacco and perfumery.
Technically, these two words describe different plants. But since both plants taste really similar, it is hard to tell the difference; especially when the leaves have been chopped. In Mexico people i met always called the green chopped fresh spice “Cilantro.” – Greetings from Germany, Jan (8/9/16)