Given this herb’s common use, having cilantro (also known as coriander) in your kitchen garden is a great idea as you can pick it fresh and add it to your recipes as you go.
I would actually recommend that all new gardeners start with herbs as it’s super rewarding to grow your own produce, and this is an easy place to start.
And cilantro is a simple herb to grow in your kitchen.
However, there is one problem! The plant has a lifecycle of about 4 months, and it bolts after that.
You cannot enjoy the fresh produce for long unless you learn how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant.
Don’t worry! I have you covered with regards to growing and harvesting this all-rounder herb.
Here is all there is to know before harvesting cilantro to get multiple yields in the same season.
This article covers everything from how to pick cilantro to storing it.
The Right Time To Harvest Cilantro
The key to having a crisp, fresh cilantro yield is to harvest it at the right time.
It takes around 4 weeks for a cilantro plant to mature until you can harvest it.
A significant factor determining the harvest time is the size, which should be at least 6 inches at the time of harvest.
A single plant has almost 4 months to produce yield until it bolts – as mentioned earlier.
You can either pull out all the cilantro or leave some for further germination through self-seed.
I won’t encourage you to consume cilantro after it starts flowering. After flowering, the cilantro leaves lose their colour and taste, so it is important you learn how to trim cilantro properly before that.
Top Tips On Harvesting Cilantro Without Killing It
Whether you need a small amount of cilantro for cooking purposes or a large batch for storing, you must learn how to pick cilantro without destroying the plant.
Here’s some guidance for you:
Harvesting A Small Amount Of Cilantro
If you need a small number of leaves, make sure you pick the outer leaves only and leave the older ones untouched.
This helps the plant to continue growing regardless of how many times you pluck the leaves.
You can use scissors or even just your hand to pluck the stem one inch above the ground level.
Harvesting Cilantro In Bulk
If you intend to store cilantro in large quantities, I recommend picking it during the winter season since it is at peak growth.
You should also learn how to trim cilantro since regular trimming helps the plant produce more yield.
Make sure you only trim one-third of the cilantro at a time. This allows the plant to keep on growing even after the harvest.
How To Care For Cilantro
The key to a healthy cilantro plant that continues to yield useable leaves is in the right growing conditions. Let’s take a look:
Cilantro plants grow best with at least 4 hours of exposure to full sun to partial shade each day.
Make sure you do not leave it out in the scorching heat of the summer though.
If the sun is too hot, move the plant indoors, or away from direct sunlight, to prevent the risk of leaves burning.
Cilantro requires loamy, well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients to mature early.
You can fertilise it 3 weeks after germination to ensure the plant tolerates the fertilisers.
Mulching regularly also greatly helps retain the moisture in the soil without clogging the roots and keeping the weeds in control (if you are growing outdoors).
Overwatering damages the root, causing root rot and various infections that can lead to the plant dying.
Hence, it is essential you keep a check on the watering schedule to prevent the roots from clogging.
Using well-draining soil and adding mulch to it helps maintain the moisture content in the soil.
Cilantro prefers cooler temperatures between 10 to 29 degrees C.
Therefore, plant it during the winter for a long harvesting period by delaying the bolting.
Besides, planting it in summer can also causes the leaves to turn bitter, ruining your whole harvest.
Companion planting is an excellent solution to maximise the sustainability of your crops.
Cilantro can be grown with almost all kinds of crops; however, it grows best with other herbs like basil, dill, and parsley.
It attracts beneficial insects too thus helping with pollination.
How To Store Cilantro
The best part about growing cilantro in your own kitchen garden is the flexibility of plucking as much as you need.
This supplies you with fresh leaves every time, compared to brown, wilted cilantro leaves from a few days back from the supermarket.
If you have mistakenly harvested more than your intended use or had to do so due to bolting, make sure you store it properly.
Read on to find out a few ways to store your cilantro and keep it fresh for future use.
● Wash the cilantro, and cut off the bottom part of the stem with roots.
● Take some water in a glass jar, put the cilantro in it, and cover it with a plastic bag.
● Place the jar in the refrigerator and change the water every day to keep it fresh for a few days.
- Wash the cilantro, and chop it up.
- Put the finely chopped leaves in ice cube trays and fill them with water.
- Freeze the ice cubes. You may choose to store the ice cubes in a separate zip lock bag once frozen. It lasts for approximately 4 months.
- Wash the cilantro and pat dry it using kitchen towel.
- Cut off the stems and place them on a baking sheet to bake them for almost 20 to 30 minutes.
- You can also hang dry it by tying up all the stems with a string – hanging them upside down in an airy location.
- Once the leaves are dry and crispy, store them in a glass jar for up to a year.
You see how straightforward it is to pick cilantro after it matures? I am sure you will get the hang of it after your first harvest.
Learning how to harvest cilantro without killing the plant is as easy as growing these delicious herbs from scratch.
By following the harvesting tips I mentioned you could easily enjoy multiple yields in the same season.
Although you can only experience the kick from freshly harvested cilantro leaves, the stored ones also provide quite a burst of flavours. I also included some storage tips if you want to harvest and use them later.