Cilantro is a very common herb across many parts of the World. But whenever it comes up it can cause quite the discussion, there are those that love it and others who hate it. How do you feel about cilantro?
Watch this fun video to learn about cilantro and do read the list below to see some fascinating facts.
(If you don’t see the video right below this text, view it on our YouTube channel by clicking here.)
• Cilantro is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley.
• The word cilantro is Spanish for coriander and is what we call the leaves and plant in the Americas; The seeds are referred to as coriander. In the rest of the world coriander is what the leaves/plant are called.
• It comes from southern Europe, North Africa and western parts of Asia.
• Cilantro has been around since biblical times and references can be found in the Bible, ancient texts from China, Egypt, Indian and the Roman empire.
• Both the plant and seeds are heavily used in Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern and southeast Asian cuisines. But are also common in Central Asian, Mediterranean, Latin America, Chinese, African and even Scandinavian cuisine.
• Cilantro was brought to the North American colonies by the English in 1670.
• The whole plant is edible. Yes, that’s right, from the leaves to the steams, roots and seeds. But the seeds should never be used in place of the leaves and vice versa.
• The root has more taste than the leaves, stems and seeds. Don’t throw it out because you can grind it up to make Thai curry pastes.
• The seeds are always called coriander and they are ground up with other ingredients to make curry spice mixes and pastes.
• Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves have a lightly citrus taste. The seeds have a stronger or more pungent taste and scent.
• There are many people who find the taste of cilantro repulsive. Some describe it as leaving a soapy taste in their mouths. The reason for the unpleasant taste has to do with genetics, you either like it or hate it. There is even an online community called “I Hate Cilantro”.
• The leaves should be added to warm/hot foods right before serving. The reason being that heat diminishes their flavour.
• Certain European rye breads occasionally use coriander seeds for flavouring.
• Some Belgian beer breweries use coriander with orange peel to add citrus undertones to beer.
• Cilantro leaves have high antioxidant properties and can delay or prevent food from spoiling.
• More nutrition is found in fresh cilantro than in the coriander seeds.
• In Europe it is called the “anti-diabetic” plant because it is believed to help control blood sugar. In Indian it is used for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
• Coriander seeds may be purchased whole or ground. But I recommend buying whole and grinding as you need. Once ground the flavour qualities are lost quickly.
• You can grow plants with the seeds you have in your pantry. I have and it grows like crazy!
• To select fresh leaves make sure to look for a fragrant, unwilted and medium green bunch.
• Fresh coriander leaves don’t have a long shelf life after being cut from the plant. Additionally their aroma is completely lost when dried or frozen.
• To store, place in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator. Alternatively you can place in a jar of water and loosely cover the leaves with a plastic bag. Make sure to change the water every couple of days.
• Before using, gently rinse throughly and pat dry.
• What to use fresh cilantro in: use it to top your favourite Mexican dishes, to make guacamole or salsas. Mix it into your favourite curries, make chutney or pesto with it too. Toss it in with your regular salad greens for a boost of flavour. Combine with garlic, sea salt and unsalted butter for an herby buttery spread.
The possibilities with cilantro are truly endless. Tell me what is your favourite way to use cilantro? Or are you a hater?