Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekend Wisdom: Coriander vs. Cilantro

This isn't news to many cooks and gardeners, but on occasion I encounter one or the other that isn't aware of the relationship between the spice coriander and the herb cilantro. While very distinctive in taste, they both come from the same plant - Coriandrum sativum.

   Coriandrum sativum                          Wikimedia

Simply put, the fresh green leaves of the plant are known as cilantro, which is used in many Mexican dishes. In fact, cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander.

Cilantro                               Wikipedia

To some, the leaves have a soapy taste and is undesirable.  It has been determined that there is a genetic factor that causes cilantro to taste this way to some people, but not to everyone.  Personally, I don't care for cilantro, because yes, it tastes a bit soapy to me.  I can handle it in very small amounts in food, but prefer that it not be used.

So what is coriander?  If the plant is allowed to go to seed, those seeds are what we know as coriander.

Coriander seed                            Wikimedia


Jason said...

I was always baffled by people who said cilantro tasted like soap so I am interested in your explanation. Personally, I LOVE cilantro, especially salsas of cilantro, fresh tomato, and lime juice, plus Indian cilantro chutney.

Laura said...

I love cilantro! But I remember the first time I tried it, I really didn't like the smell.

I now plant it in the garden since the flowers attract lots of beneficial insects and they are so pretty. Plus I get to harvest seeds at the end.

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