Cilantro Leaf: At a Glance
Cilantro leaf (known as coriander leaf or Chinese parsley outside of the Americas) is the most prolifically used herb in the world. Cilantro leaf comes from the coriander plant, one of only four plants in the world to produce two different spices or herbs (cilantro leaves and coriander seeds).
A versatile herb, cilantro has a refreshing, piney flavor with hints of lemon, pepper, and mint. These flavors can be found in fresh and dried cilantro, though dried cilantro has more subtle flavors. Cilantro leaf, the dried version of fresh cilantro, is best in cooked dishes where fresh cilantro would quickly lose its pungency. Today, cilantro is an essential fixture in kitchens throughout the Americas.
High in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and phenolic acid, cilantro has many health benefits. It is considered an antioxidant and may help fight inflammation.
Cooking with Cilantro Leaf
While fresh cilantro is normally preferred, dried cilantro leaves make an excellent alternative. This is especially true because usually it is not possible to purchase cilantro in small amounts, because fresh cilantro spoils quickly, and because the herb’s strength typically means that only a pinch is required in most recipes. Having dried cilantro leaf on hand is therefore useful and practical.
When most people hear the term “cilantro,” they think of the bright, fresh leaves atop pho, noodle dishes, salsa, or guacamole. Some people love the taste of cilantro, while others find its flavor to be soapy. Like oregano and basil, it can be used fresh or dried.
Cilantro can be found in recipes from China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Persia, Egypt, and Mexico. Dried cilantro leaf is best for cooked dishes where fresh cilantro would not be as suitable. It is not recommended for chimichurri sauces, banh mi sandwiches, or other fresh dishes where a fresh cilantro flavor should feature prominently.
Some recipes where you can use our cilantro leaf include:
- Arroz con pollo: While this dish calls for fresh cilantro, try using dried cilantro leaf instead. Its longer cooking time means that the pungency of fresh cilantro will be lost. Using the dried herb instead will add a subtle flavor.
- Falafel: For an easy falafel recipe, use dried cilantro leaf for the mixed herbs required by this recipe. Along with garlic, chickpeas, cumin, and lemon, the cilantro adds a fresh zest to this healthy, baked falafel.
- Herb blends: Combine cilantro leaf with herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil to make an excellent herb blend that adds depth and flavor to many savory dishes.
When using dried cilantro leaf in the place of fresh cilantro, the general rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of cilantro leaf for every two teaspoons of fresh cilantro.
Cilantro Leaf: History and Origination
Cilantro has been used in cooking for over seven thousand years, since at least 5000 BC. Though little is known about the origin of the coriander plant, it is generally believed to be native to the Mediterranean and parts of southwest Europe.
The earliest coriander plants were found in Israel, near the Dead Sea in the Nahal Hemar cave area. Its name is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit writing and in the Bible, with the Old Testament referring to coriander seed in the book of Exodus. Seeds of the coriander plant have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. For hundreds of years, the Chinese have valued cilantro for its medicinal properties.
The herb is used around in cuisines around the world, from Thai to Mexican. It followed ancient trade routes from Europe and Asia, which brought it to the Middle East and the Americas. It arrived in Mexico in the 1500s and Massachusetts Bay in the 1600s.
The name “cilantro” comes from the Spanish word for “coriander,” which was originally derived from the Latin term, celiandrum or coriandrum.
Cultivation of Cilantro Leaf
Cilantro leaf comes from the greens of the coriander plant, a member of the parsley family. Coriander plants are hardy annuals that grow best in sunny places with rich, well-drained soil. Higher nitrogen levels in the soil are better for cultivating the plant’s leaves because higher concentrations of nitrogen delay the ripening of the coriander seeds.
For ideal growth, the coriander plant needs even temperatures and rainfall for one hundred days. Seeds are planted in warm soil to increase the likelihood that they will germinate. Coriander plants grow to about three feet high.
The leaves of the coriander plant are harvested at regular intervals to encourage the plant to continue producing. Traditionally, after harvesting, cilantro leaves are tied together in loose bundles and hung upside-down to dry. They can also be dried in ovens or in other dryers.
About Our Cilantro Leaf
Our cilantro leaves come from Israel, where cilantro has a long and treasured history. In Israel, cilantro is a valued and traditional herb and is referred to several times in the Old Testament.
We source cilantro leaf from high-quality suppliers, and our product has no fillers or additives.