Written by: Danny Vier
Average Height: 5-7 inches
Average Weight: approx. 3 ounces
Suggested amount to use in your recipe: 1 cup, finely chopped
Average grow time required in your garden: 40 – 50 days
Knowledge of common salsa ingredients is crucial if you want to create your own authentic recipe. Cilantro is an extremely common ingredient, and with good reason. Cilantro has a very fresh taste and works well to balance spicy ingredients. It can be grown all over the world and is not just a favorite in Mexican cuisine.
Fresh cilantro is made up of small leaves and in correct volumes is a perfect addition in a recipe for salsa. Coriandrum Sativum is the scientific name for coriander, and cilantro is the name given to the coriander leaves. Coriander comes from the apiaceae family of herbs. The plant is so common that it is difficult to say exactly which regions it is native to. Typical areas for finding cilantro include southern Europe and southwestern Asia, though it can be grown anywhere with plenty of sunlight and low humidity.
If you plan on growing your own cilantro, make sure that you live in an area with dry summers as it can be very difficult to grow coriander in humid areas. The best time to plant coriander is between spring and fall. It is a very fast growing plant and only takes about six weeks to develop into a harvest-able ingredient. With regular watering, the plant will grow to the desired height of around six inches and will be ready to harvest. Again, keep in mind that cilantro does require an amble amount of sunlight as mentioned above, optimal exposure is best when arranging your garden layout for this ingredient.
Whether you have prepared your own cilantro in your home garden or picked some up at your local grocer, let’s talk a bit about how to prepare your ingredient for cooking. The first step when preparing any ingredient is to wash it. It doesn’t take much, all you have to do is rinse the plant in water and lay it out on some paper towels. Place a layer of paper towels on top for more effective drying. Once the plant is dry enough, you can remove the leaves from the stems using your very own hands. The leaves, as they are, can be used as a garnish, but chopping them up into fine bits makes them a great ingredient in a recipe for salsa.
Salsa is not the only use for coriander, and lucky for us, every part of the plant is edible. If you have removed the leaves, you don’t need to throw away the stems, they can be chopped up and used in many other recipes!
Cilantro is a staple in Mexican cooking and is used extensively in salsa recipes. The greatest part about cilantro is its uniquely fresh taste. The reason it shows up in so many Mexican dishes is due to its complimentary nature with a variety of peppers, especially the chipotle. It is the fresh green taste that best counters the heat of those other ingredients. Fresh cilantro is preferred, but it can also be found as a dry seasoning at a local spice shop. Not everyone enjoys cilantro on its own, but put it in salsa and they will learn to love it. So start experimenting with cilantro, figure out a way to make it your own and you will be that much closer to becoming a salsa expert!