Cilantro (part of Coriandrum sativum) is an herb grown for its leaves as well as for its seeds to use in food recipes and other ways. The Cilantro plant grows from 1½ to 2½ feet tall and can be mature enough to use in as little as 50 days. Snip off flower stems before the plant sets flowers to prolong harvest of the leaves. If allowed to bloom, the flowers are white to pink to pale lavender, and the plants have fragrant leaves. Very easy to grow from seed directly in the garden as well as in containers.
The fresh leaves of Cilantro are key to providing flavor in salsas and guacamole dips and spreads, and for complimenting salad greens and for other recipes. The leaves are also known as Chinese parsley, coriander leaves or fresh coriander, and they are used in preparing certain Asian food recipes, too. Since heat diminishes their flavor, coriander leaves are often used fresh from the plant to be added to the dish immediately before serving. Once the leaves are cut from the plant, they will spoil quickly and begin to lose their distinctive aroma.
The dried seeds of the Cilantro plant are called Coriander, and they are used in various Chinese recipes and even some Mexican food recipes. Coriander has a lemony-citrus flavor when crushed. To create dried Coriander seeds, plants should be harvested by clipping the long stems from the plant, then hang them upside down in a paper bag in a dark, well-ventilated room. Seeds will soon fall off the stems when the bag is shaken, and they can be sun-dried to store in a container. In addition to Chinese and Mexican food recipes, Corainder is used to flavor pastries and breads, liquors, and middle-eastern coffee. It is also a key ingredient in Indian curry pastes and powders, southwestern chili powder blends, and pickling spices.