Get The Most Out of Your Cilantro from Backyard Eats
When It’s Ready
- When the plant has unfurled green leaves
- When the plant is 4-6 inches tall
When It’s Too Late
- Cilantro produces flowers and seeds in less than 2 months (much faster in the heat of summer)
- When this happens, plants stop replacing harvested leaves with new ones, opting for upright growth and flowering instead*
- Harvest frequently, until leaf yield is too little to warrant harvest
*Cilantro is both beautiful and functional when in the flowering and seed stage, but to continue leaf harvest, a new crop is usually started instead of growing the plant out.
- Pick a few leaves or stems if that’s all you need
- Clear-cut stems at the base of the plant with a sharp serrated knife or scissors if a larger quantity is needed
- Leave a couple inches of stem and some bottom leaves to allow for regrowth.
- Cilantro will regrow 2-3 weeks after harvest
Cilantro is a fresh and flavorful herb that is commonly used in cooking to add a bright and zesty flavor to a variety of dishes. It has a distinctive taste that is slightly citrusy and slightly peppery, with hints of sweetness and a touch of bitterness. Cilantro is often used in Mexican, Latin American, and Asian cuisines. It is a key ingredient in guacamole, salsa, and pico de gallo, as well as in many soups, stews, and sauces.
Fresh Storage: Trim stems and put in a glass with water and bag over the top. Leave on the counter, or place in refrigerator for added storage time. Change water daily.
Of course, you can just put leaves in airtight bags or containers and refrigerate. Wash before using.
Long-Term Storage: Freezing in ice cubes (most convenient), or air drying.
Cooking With Cilantro
- Fresh Salsa: Combine chopped cilantro with diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, lime juice, and salt for a zesty and refreshing salsa. Serve it with tortilla chips, tacos, or grilled meats for a burst of flavor.
- Cilantro Lime Rice: Add chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to cooked rice. Mix well to infuse the rice with a bright and citrusy flavor. This aromatic side dish pairs perfectly with Mexican or Asian-inspired meals.
- Cilantro Pesto: Blend cilantro leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil to create a vibrant cilantro pesto. Use it as a sauce for pasta, a spread on sandwiches, or a marinade for grilled chicken or fish.
- Thai Green Curry: Add chopped cilantro stems and leaves to a Thai green curry paste along with coconut milk, vegetables, and your choice of protein. Simmer until the flavors meld together and serve with steamed rice for a fragrant and delicious curry.
- Cilantro-Lime Dressing: Blend cilantro, lime juice, garlic, honey, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to make a tangy and herbaceous dressing. Drizzle it over salads, roasted vegetables, or use it as a marinade for grilled shrimp or chicken.