Cilantro is an herb with two names, cilantro and coriander. It is called cilantro in its leafy and flowering form, but the seeds are called coriander, hence it is known as both an herb and a spice. Cilantro has become a very popular herb that is called for in many, South American, Middle-Eastern and Indonesian dishes. In fact, it can turn up in almost any recipe. It has a complex flavor, and I tend to cut it with flat leaf and parsley in some recipes. Still, it adds depth of flavor and is considered a health-giving plant.
Like other herbs, cilantro is easy to grow. Sun and a good, well draining soil, of course. The main requirement is cool weather. Cilantro bolts quickly when temperatures go above 75 degrees for a few days. It can be seeded early in the spring and again in late summer and fall. In fact, the early spring cilantro will have already bolted and formed seed by late summer. It will very likely have self-seeded so that new cilantro shoots are already sprouting. I have also found cilantro sprouting here and there in the garden the following spring.
Cilantro does not retain much flavor when it is dried. I treat cilantro the same way I do basil. I blend up the flavorful foliage in a blender or food processor with some olive oil. Then I put a tablespoonful in a little plastic sandwich bag and twist it shut. I put several sandwich bags, each with its own tablespoon full of cilantro and oil in a larger freezer bag. Some cooks prefer to store their cilantro oil in an ice cube tray to create a measured amount.
Coriander first appears on the bolted plant as shiny little green seeds. These can be added to salads or fish for a delightful burst of flavor. As the coriander seeds dry to a brown shade the flavor mellows. Before they are so dry they fall off the plant, put the seed heads in a paper bag and let them dry fully. Then bottle them in an air tight glass jar. One way or another you will have a flavorful harvest to give you a tropical zest to the grayest January day.