How To Harvest Cilantro: A Guide For Beginners

Cilantro (Ocimum basilicum) is one of the most popular herbs in Latin America. It’s used in many cuisines such as Mexican, Peruvian, Cuban and Venezuelan cuisine. You’ll find it commonly sprinkled over tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tamales. Its flavor is mild yet complex with hints of garlic and lemon. It is a great addition to salads, soups and stews.

It’s not uncommon to see cilantro in grocery stores or even at farmers markets. However, if you’re new to harvesting cilantro, there are some things you need to know before starting out. If you’ve never harvested any other herb before, start off slowly with just a few leaves and then increase your efforts until you feel comfortable harvesting whole plants. You don’t want to try this at home!

What Is Cilantro?

Cilantro is a member of the mint family. There are several species of cilantro, but all have similar characteristics. They grow from stems up to 6 feet tall and produce large green leaves that are 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. The leaves are edible when young, but they turn brown and shrivel up as they age. The seeds contain cyanide which causes death within minutes if ingested in sufficient quantity. Every part of the plant except the fruit (seeds) is considered toxic.

The cilantro plant is known by several names, such as coriander, Chinese parsley, dhania and Mexican parsley. The root of the plant produces a distinctive flavor when cooked. It tastes like a combination of lemon, pine and onion. This flavor makes it an indispensable ingredient in many Asian, Latin American and Caribbean dishes.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Herbs and leaf crops: Cilantro, broadleaf cilantro and vegetable amaranth by JP Morales-Payan – Soils, Plant Growth and Corp Production, 2011 –

ZnO nanoparticles increase photosynthetic pigments and decrease lipid peroxidation in soil grown cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) by VLR Pullagurala, IO Adisa, S Rawat, S Kalagara… – Plant Physiology and …, 2018 – Elsevier

Cilantro response to nitrogen fertilizer rates by M Rangappa, HL Bhardwaj, M Showhda… – Journal of herbs …, 1997 – Taylor & Francis

Postharvest physiology and quality of cilantro (Coriandrum sativum L.) by J Loaiza, M Cantwell – HortScience, 1997 –

Cilantro production in California by R Smith, J Bi, M Cahn, M Cantwell, O Daugovish… – 2011 –

Survival of Listeria monocytogenes on the surface of basil, cilantro, dill, and parsley plants by CA Bardsley, RR Boyer, SL Rideout, LK Strawn – Food Control, 2019 – Elsevier

Evaluation of antilisterial action of cilantro oil on vacuum packed ham by AO Gill, P Delaquis, P Russo, RA Holley – International journal of food …, 2002 – Elsevier

Evaluation of public health risk for Escherichia coli O157: H7 in cilantro by T Horr, AK Pradhan – Food Research International, 2020 – Elsevier



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