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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Culantro



Culantro is an herb I found this year at one of the big box stores and since I had never heard of it, I thought I would give it a try. The sign on the rack said it had the same flavor as cilantro and since my cilantro leaves only seem to be plentiful in the spring, this could be useful later in the summer. I usually use cilantro in salsas with fresh tomatoes or tomatillos or other salads made with fresh garden veggies. By the time the tomatoes are ready, the cilantro has gone to seed and is not very leafy at all. Culantro could very easily be used in place of cilantro in these instances. It would also be good with black beans. I am specifically thinking of a cooked black bean salsa that is served over cheesy grits. I haven't made it in a while but that may be just the thing to use some of this new herb I have.

Culantro is from the same family as cilantro and it does have the same flavor, although a bit stronger. It is indigenous the Caribbean, Latin America and the West Indies. The leaves are serrated and really quite sharp, so you must be careful. To me, this characteristic does not lend it to be useful for eating, but if they are chopped well enough or pulverized in the food processor it won't make a difference. I did read that it grows naturally in shaded, moist areas. So perhaps mine is so prickly because it is growing in the full sun. One advantage to the prickly leaves is that the deer have not eaten it, and it is one of the few successes from my garden this year. I have read that it is attractive to beneficial insects such as the ladybug. I haven't noticed any around it but I haven't looked for them either.

It looks like it has little flower heads, although they are not much to look at, but you can definitely see the jagged leaves in the close up photo.

I don't think this will over winter here in zone 5 but I would buy it again if I see it. Of course, I may get lucky and it will self-seed. I guess I will find out next spring.

12 comments:

tina said...

It is really pretty! It also looks as though it grows easily. I will look for it.

I made your mock cakes this past weekend and hubby and I loved them. I took a picture and will add to a post at some time. So much going on, just wanted to let you know they were really delicious and a unique way to use the zucchini. Very easy to make too which is important to me.

DP Nguyen said...

Wow, that is so cook. It's funny because they taste the same, and the only difference is the "i" in their name. I misread it as cilantro at first, lol. But it is very pretty and cool!

Gail said...

I thought you had a spelling error! Love finding new plants!

Gail

Rose said...

Gail and I had the same thought, LOL. But then I saw the photo and thought "that doesn't look like the cilantro I planted last year." Interesting plant...
I tried the cilantro last year because Older Daughter always made homemade salsa, but as you say, by the time my tomatoes were ready, the cilantro had gone to seed.
Have you made any salsa with the culantro yet?

Cindy said...

Tina ~ I'm so glad you liked the mock crab cakes. It's nice to have zucchini other than grilled or fried.

DP ~ Yes, it is funny the names are so close. I guess since they are in the same family.

Gail ~ I should have put a disclaimer that it wasn't a misspelling as that is what everyone is thinking - haha.

Rose ~ I have not made any salsa yet this year because my tomato situation is dismal. But maybe this weekend I will make a trip to the farmers market and get some tomatos to do some things with, like salsa and my favorite BLT's.

Dave said...

That's pretty interesting! I've never heard of it, like the others I thought it was a misspelled cilantro at first!

TC said...

Hi and thanks for stopping by my blog Cindy. I see we garden in the same area. Perhaps a chance meeting soon? ;~)

My wife loves cilantro and would probably love culantro, I'll have to ask her if she's familiar with it.

By all means, visit Phipps.

Cindy said...

Dave ~ I had never heard of it until I saw it at the store this year.

TC ~ Welcome! I was happy to find your site because I've been looking for other PA gardenbloggers. I'll have to plan a trip to Phipps, I always love visiting there.

TC said...

Hey Cindy,

I should visit Phipps more often, it's not that far and not that expensive either. If you do plan on going any time soon, give me a shout, maybe we could meet there.

Cindy said...

TC ~ I'd love to meet a fellow gardenblogger friend. Hopefully I can plan a trip sometime this fall. I'll give you a shout if it falls into place.

TC said...

Cool! Fall would be a nice time to visit Phipps I think.

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

I've never heard of Culantro before. The idea of black beans, a cilantro tasting herb and cheesy grits is making my mouth water!