Cilantro is a delicious and fragrant herb used in many different cuisines all over the world. It is best used fresh. In this post, we will show you how to harvest cilantro, including when to harvest it, and how to cut cilantro without damaging the plant.
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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum, also known as coriander) is a flavorful fresh herb that can be used in many types of dishes, from curries, stir-fries, and pasta dishes, to a garnish for soups, and greens for salads. It adds a bright, fresh flavor and a pop of color to any dish you choose to add it to.
Growing cilantro is easy, though it has a tendency to bolt to seed. Harvesting cilantro in your garden regularly can help to prevent this, and if care is taken to harvest it properly it can keep your plant happy and healthy.
To harvest cilantro and ensure that the plant remains healthy, do not remove more than ½ the plant. Harvest the cilantro stems from the outside first, cutting at the base of the stem. Give the plant time to recover and grow back after removing the leaves.
When to harvest cilantro
As an annual plant, there is no best time of year to harvest it. Cilantro plants can be harvested as soon as they start to get bushy, from around 6 weeks after planting.
If the stems (or sprigs) have three or more bundles of leaves they can be harvested. Avoid harvesting those with only one or two leaf bundles.
The best time of day to harvest cilantro is in the morning after the dew has dried, but before the day has started to heat up.
How to harvest cilantro so it keeps growing
Harvest sprigs of cilantro from the outer portion of the plant, and cut the sprig from the base of the stem near the soil.
New cilantro grows from the center of the plant and moves outwards, so by harvesting from the outside and removing the entire stalk you are removing the oldest growth and making room for the newer growth.
Cutting cilantro in this way helps to stimulate new growth, and can reinvigorate a leggy plant.
To harvest cilantro without damaging the plant, use a sharp pair of clean kitchen shears or scissors to make a clean cut. This will help to prevent damage or disease to the plant following harvesting.
After harvesting, keep the soil moist while the plant recovers.
How to store fresh cut cilantro
To keep newly harvested cilantro fresh, store in between moist paper towels in the refrigerator, or stand stems in a glass of fresh water, changing the water every couple of days. It should keep for a few weeks.
>> For more, see: How to Store Cilantro
If you want to store it for a longer time then try freezing the cilantro. You can chop it and freeze it in olive oil in an ice-cube tray, then pop out as needed.
It is also a very easy herb to dry, though the flavor won’t be preserved quite as well as the other storage methods. For more details, check out my article: How to Dry Cilantro
How to Harvest Cilantro
A step-by-step guide to harvesting cilantro without damaging the plant.
- A cilantro plant.
- Sharp scissors or secateurs
- Inspect your cilantro plant to find a stem with more than three leaf bundles.
- Cut the stem approximately 1 inch above the soil, using sharp scissors or secateurs to make a good clean cut.
- If you are harvesting the cilantro for leaves to use, continue until you have sufficient cilantro for your recipe, or until you have cut back up to half of the plant.
- If you are harvesting cilantro to improve the condition of your plant, continue to prune until you have cut all the long leggy stems from the outer edge of the plant. Up to half of the plant can be removed.
- Place the cilantro plant in a sunny location and keep watered to ensure it will regrow.
- Store harvested cilantro in the fridge between damp paper towels, or stand the stems in a glass of water.
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