Cilantro bolting, and a salsa.

Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 10:59:56 -0700
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Sherry Rose <sherry.GORGE.NET>
Subject: Cilantro Problem


I've been trying to grow cilantro (Chinese parsley, coriander) for several years so that I can use the leaves in Mexican and Chinese recipes.

However, all I ever get are a few leaves, then they go into business making flowers and seeds. I never get big bunches of lush, leafy growth as I've seen in produce departments of grocery and natural foods stores.

So far I've tried the following:

  • planting in very early spring
  • planting later
  • fertilizing
  • not fertilizing
  • using seeds of plants that were hybridized for more leaf growth

Has anyone been successful in growing lush cilantro? If so, what are your secrets?

From: Jaime/WildFire Farm <jknoble.INTERSERV.COM>

> Has anyone been successful in growing lush cilantro? If so, what are your secrets?


First, if you want a continuing supply of cilantro, you should succession plant about every 3 weeks. I know you said you've used seed that is hybridized for more leaf growth, but here's the following info anyway. To the more basic question of bolting - you need to get "slow-bolt" cilantro. There are two types: slow-bolt and regular. The regular is generally grown for seed, hence the speed to seed. The slow-bolt is grown for the leaves like you want. It still bolts pretty fast, though. That's why the succession planting. I always use Shepard's (I have no association with them other than as a consumer) because I find I get nearly 100% germination rates & theirs is the slowest to bolt of all I've found. [If anyone's found a slower bolt seed, I'd love to know about it.]

Look at the cilantro in the store, if it has roots attached you will see that it is only 10 - 12" high. It pretty much all bolts just about then. I grow cilantro for commercial use (as well as a lot for my own use) and generally pull it at about 12". I always pull it, not cut it because it keeps much better with the roots on and because it leaves space for the next planting. I do fertilize lightly once just after the first true leaves appear. It grows nicely in sandy loamy soil. I'm experimenting a little this year with light shade to keep it cooler in order to see if I can slow down the bolt even more without losing anything. It works well with lettuce, so I'm giving it a try. I'll let you know my experiment results in a month or so.

From: "Mary E. Hall" <IOMA2.AOL.COM>

Would it slow down the bolting to seed if I pinched back the flower buds? It's just about to go into my garden (with luck it'll come up this time) and I've no idea what to expect.

But Sherry, if your cilantro goes to seed, don't despair--hey presto, the leaves are cilantro, the seeds are coriander.

From: Sara Anne Corrigan <SaraAnneC.AOL.COM>

I have had varying degrees of success with cilantro; best years are when I get the seeds our REAL early. When volunteer dillweed starts showing up in my garden, as it always does, I know it's time to get cilantro seeds in the ground. Then I pray for a long, luxurious, sunny spring with warm but not hot days and cool nights. Cilantro and arugula are about the first things to bolt when hot weather hits. I have never had a bit of luck with later summer or early fall plantings.

From: Maria del Giudice <spider.RT66.COM>

> I grow Coriander, but I see a lot of american recipes calling for Cilantro. I have the feeling that they are the same herb, but I was wanting to check it.

Hi. Coriander and cilantro are the same plant, but the seeds are coriander and the herb is cilantro. It is used a lot in Mexican cooking, especially in salsa fresca. It is similar to parsley but has a heavier flavor (it seems to me like a cross between cumin and parsley). I think it is an acquired taste, but I've come to really like it. I would grow it, but I can get BIG bunches of it in the grocery store for 50 cents anytime I want. (I live in New Mexico.)

From: Esther Czekalski <E.Czekalski.M.BULL.COM>

Here are the recipes for the fritters and the salsa, these should be credited to Kitchen Gardens magazine.

Spicy Carrot Fritters

2 Cups shredded carrots
1 large potato, grated
¼ Cup chopped green onion tops
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ Cup heavy cream (I had half and half so thats what I used)
¼ Cup flour
1 teasp red pepper flakes
½ teasp salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine all the ingredients for the salsa (below) and set aside. Combine all the ingredients for the fritters. The batter will be loose. In a large skillet heat ¼ cup of oil over high heat, but don't let the oil smoke. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter. Put as many fritters in the pan as will fit without crowding. Cook them until golden brown on both sides. Remove the fritters from the skillet and place them on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all the fritters are cooked. Top with salsa and serve

Fresh Salsa
3 tomatoes diced
1 small red onion diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tbsp. finely chipped fresh cilantro salt to taste

My notes: getting them browned without burning was tricky. Probably because the carrots have a high sugar content. I wouldn't heat the oil as hot as the recipie suggests and then try just one as a test. 2-3 minutes each side on a med-low heat worked for me.

These were also good with sour cream or cottage cheese, although I would add grated onion to the mix if I were serving them without salsa. (Had em left over for breakfast with cottage cheese, yum.)

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