WHAT IS CILANTRO?
It is the Spanish name of the stem and green leaves of the coriander plant. Also known as Chinese parsley, in other countries the generic name coriander is applied to the entire plant (a.k.a. no one knows what cilantro is). The powdered spice coriander is made from the seeds and has a very different flavor. Originally native to Persia, today cilantro is popular in Indian, southwestern American and Mexican cuisine. This herb looks very similar to flat leaf parsley but has a citrus overtone that makes it especially appealing.
WHY IS CILANTRO GOOD FOR YOU?
This herb is healthy in a number of surprising ways. It is a chelator, helping to remove a harmful surplus of heavy metals from your body. So if you’re dying of lead poisoning and thinking of ordering Mexican, good call! It’s rumored to help with anxiety and listeria food poisoning as well as being an anti-inflammatory. Despite these benefits though, about 4% of adults may be allergic to this plant in its raw form. And while this herb is famous for its potent healing properties, it should only be consumed in moderation. Otherwise “potent” turns into a long prayer session in the bathroom with the resident porcelain altar.
WHEN IS CILANTRO IN SEASON?
Planted in late spring, these leaves are ready for harvest about 6 weeks later until early Fall.
HOW SHOULD CILANTRO BE STORED?
Cut stems can be placed in a partially filled jar of water (at least an inch), cover the top with saran wrap and refrigerate. Or place in a zip lock bag with a moist paper towel (not completely closed) and refrigerate. While you can also do this at room temperature, the cooler environment of your fridge will extend this herb’s shelf life.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M GENETICALLY UNFIT FOR CILANTRO?
A small percentage of people who try this herb say it tastes like soap and smells disgusting. There is a particular gene which for some people causes sensitivity to aldehyde chemicals. This is what gives cilantro its unique flavor. However while these genes influence your taste, they don’t automatically pre-dispose you to absolute disgust. The internet and people like Julia Child raving about how disgusting this herb is do that all on their own.