Growing cilantro at home will save you money, as this herb can be expensive when purchased fresh. Learning how to grow cilantro is also easy, fast and the end result tastes much better than cilantro grown commercially.
Allowing cilantro to go to seed will yield spicy coriander (cilantro seeds), which among other cooking applications is especially popular for use in curry sauces.
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A member of the parsley family, cilantro prefers cool weather and well-drained yet moist soil.
Cilantro does not transplant well, so its seeds should be planted directly in the garden once all danger of frost has passed. You should plant cilantro seed about one half inch (1.3 cm) deep and 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.32 cm) apart.
To ensure a plentiful supply of cilantro, plant additional seeds every three weeks.
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Once the cilantro seedlings have popped out of the ground, you will need to thin them - garden shears or scissors both do the trick. Save the thinnings for use as micro greens in salads.
Pruning cilantro regularly to prevent flower heads from forming will result in in a longer-lived plant.
Keep the soil moist as the plants continue to grow. Fertilizer is usually not needed.
Harvest cilantro as needed when the leaves are about four inches in length. For optimum taste, it is best to pick cilantro early in the day.
If you're growing cilantro for the seeds (coriander), gather the seeds after the flower heads have ripened in the summer heat. This can literally take place overnight, so be watchful.
Pick young leaves by hand and clip flower heads off into a paper bag, shaking the bag often until seeds have dried.
Freshly harvested cilantro should be picked over to remove any bad leaves. Do not wash leaves, as this will also wash away some of the aromatic oils present in them.
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Cilantro is best when eaten fresh.
For short-term storage, refrigerate in a glass of water, clipping the bottom stems slightly and arranging them in the glass carefully. Covered with a paper bag, cilantro will keep for up to 10 days.
Cilantro may be frozen for up to two months by freezing leaves and a small amount of water in ice cube trays, then popping out the cubes and storing them in a freezer bag.
Dried cilantro will keep the longest - two to six months - but expect some flavor loss.
Coriander/cilantro seeds are viable for five to six years.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Cilantro. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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