Cilantro Growers Unite!

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by Kerri Conan 

Maybe all summer long, gentle costal breezes caress the lush foliage on your cilantro plant. Perhaps you’ve never seen the stalk suddenly shoot up a tuft of flowers and spindly leaves, signaling it’s decided to go to seed. If so, congratulations. For the rest of us—who cuss this natural phenomena and the so-called “slow-bolt” varieties it rode in on—the shock of having a carefully cultivated plant rendered useless literally overnight is enough to make you put parsley in your salsa. 

But I say: Embrace the bolt. Grow as much cilantro as the garden will accommodate, savor the leaves for the five minutes they appear in June, and when the flowers bud out, start eating those. When they turn to green seeds, eat those, too. (Their flavor is a perfect blend of the soapy notes from the leaves and the sharp citrus flavors in the seeds; I crush them a bit with the side of a knife then use them the same way I’d use both.) Then at the end of summer, after the plant has been ravaged by heat, insects, disease, and your renaissance appetite, pick through and pluck (or thresh) off the dried, brown coriander seeds to sustain you through winter. 

There. Problem solved. Now who’s with me?

Posted in Farming

9 Comments

  1. betling said...

    Last year we let our arugula go to seed — now, we have renegade arugula all over & have to eat fresh arugula every day. Oh darn.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Ditto on the renegade arugula. I also just let the cilantro seed itself, but I’m exicted to try the seeds!

  3. Anonymous said...

    I’m with you, and absolutely agree. Cilantro is sort of like cats–you never know whether it’s going to be there for you or not.

  4. Anonymous said...

    You’ve probably tried the seeds…coriander. Try Simon Hopkinson’s green paste recipe. Uses the whole plant.

  5. myrecessionkitchen said...

    I was going to pull my cilantro up today but you’ve made me change my mind!

  6. fullofbeans said...

    I’ve started to think of the green coriander berries–not the leaves–as the main crop. http://fullofbeans.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/summertime-suspended/

  7. Anonymous said...

    my 1st time growing cilantro and its freaking me out lol have this big branch w flowers! its wild! i love it lol

  8. Anonymous said...

    The first time it happened I thought I simply neglected my garden for a week or two. I need to listening more to my mother in law!

  9. bamiyannyc said...

    Your cilantro patch is beautiful, what is the secret? I have tried more than once and only get tiny plants.

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