Thursday, August 5, 2010

Never the Twain Shall Meet!

I've had several people ask for cilantro plants in the last week.
Most people want cilantro when tomatoes come in season so they can prepare salsa. Unfortunately, you can't get cilantro to grow then tomatoes come in.

Cilantro is like lettuce - it°s a cool weather annual, with the heat of the summer, (which came early this year) it will bolt, flower and go to seed just like lettuce does then the weather heats up. We sell a slow-bolt variety and you can put your plants in partial shade, but this lengthens the season only slightly. Once it gets really hot, the nature of the plant is to flower, set seed and die.

I always recommend planting early, harvesting foliage and freezing it until tomato season. Allow your plants to flower and seed to drop. You should get a second crop late in the season as the weather cools off. If you can find seed now, you can plant during the second half of August for a late season crop.

In the spring, we carry a plant called Vietnamese coriander. It is a heat tolerant substitute for cilantro. To me, it smells and tastes like cilantro, although smell and taste are very individual. But if you plant cilantro and let it reseed, Vietnamese coriander will give you a substitute during the hot weather between cilantro crops. It is not winter hardy, but stems root easily in water,
if you want to hold some over inside during the winter

Speaking of cilantro, it can add a southwestern touch to the black bean salad recipe I posted a little while back. Just substitute cilantro for the savory in the original recipe and use lime basil in place of regular basil. Lime basil is also great on chicken and fish. I think I like it even better than lemon basil.

Another great basil is cinnamon basil. It's sweet, spicy flavor is far removed from Genovese basil (the one to use for pesto, spaghetti sauce, etc.). Chop it over fresh fruit, brew it for tea, or add a sprig or two to mint tea. You can also steep it in warmed milk, strain out the leaves and use the flavored milk to prepare instant pudding, muffins, quick brands, pound. cake, etc.

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