Culantro is a perennial tropical herb that is used to add flavor to your dishes while cooking. It is similar to cilantro (coriander) and lettuce. Usually, its leaves and stalks are used. It is an amazing substitute for cilantro, with a stronger aroma and taste and leaves that are a bit longer. It is used in the Caribbean, Americas, Vietnam, Thailand, and several other Asian countries.

Botanical Name: Eryngium Foetidum

Common Names: Culantro, Mexican coriander, sawtooth coriander, Recao, shadow Beni, long coriander, Bhandhania, spiny cilantro, broadleaf cilantro.

See also: Substitutes For Cilantro and Shiso

culantro in herb garden

Origins of culantro:

Culantro is said to have originated from the Caribbean or tropical regions of the Americas. Now, it is cultivated worldwide. It can be grown annually in colder areas if suitable conditions are provided. It has been growing wildly since ancient times and was used for medicinal purposes.

Culantro is self-propagated through reseeding and naturally grows under shady forests, humid climates, and moist soil. It was brought to South-East Asia by the Chinese to be used instead of coriander and it was naturalized there later.

The herb grows well in partial sunlight above 1700 meters sea level. It does not tolerate frost.

What does culantro look like?

Culantro is a small green herb having long leaves with tiny spines at the edges. The leaves are green in color and arranged in a spiral pattern around the main stem. The plants are approximately 8-40 centimeters in height. The size of leaves is 1-4 centimeters in width and 5-32 centimeters in length.

They are good ground covering plants. The herb has creamy white flowers.

What does culantro taste like?

According to the taste and aroma, we can say that culantro is a stronger version of cilantro. Both are used for the same purposes (culinary) but culantro is usually added in dishes while cooking, while cilantro, being fragile, is added after cooking.

The aroma of culantro is strong and musky, having citrus and herbal notes. However, sometimes it is noticed to have a stinking smell.

It has a strong herbaceous, culinary flavor leaving behind a bit of citrusy bitter nuance. Some people are often found saying that culantro has a soapy taste, like how many feel about cilantro.

How to use culantro?

This herb is used to add in rice, beans, and stews. The leaves are used in chutneys, salads, or topping over dishes. They are also used in soups, curries, noodle dishes, and various other recipes.

 Because of its versatile flavor, it is used widely across different regions of the world. In its dried form, it is used as a spice.

How to store culantro?

The unwashed culantro leaves can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator by wrapping them in paper towels. You can also store them for extended use by chopping the leaves and then mixing them in oil. This mixture can be stored in the freezer for a long period of time.

The leaves and seeds could also be stored in dried form.

Seasons and availability:

This savory substitute of cilantro is available all year-round, but grows best in the summer heat (the off-season of cilantro), so that the cilantro lovers can get the fresh taste they desire through culantro.

In tropical and sub-tropical regions, you could plant it in your garden with great ease. You can also get them from farmer stores, big grocery stores, or vegetable shops.

Culantro nutrition:

This herb is rich in calcium, iron, proteins, vitamins A, B, and C, carotene, and riboflavin. Culantro has many health benefits, and is prepared in tea form to cure flu, fevers, constipation, and diabetes.

Some popular health benefits of culantro consumption are:

  • Detoxification

 The culantro contains vitamin B2, which is good for the proper functioning of the liver. Regular intake can reduce the occurrence of toxic substances in the liver, so it is excellent for detoxification.

It contains natural antioxidants such as phenolics, carotenoids, anthraquinone, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Read More.

  • Pain relief

Culantro is known for the reduction of inflammation around body parts. For this purpose, the leaves should be boiled with water, and the hot infused water can be drunk or applied to body parts or joints for analgesic purposes. Read More.

  • Eliminate bad breath

Culantro can control the issue of bad breath. The strong and fresh fragrance and chlorophyll give it deodorizing effects.

For this sake, you could simply chew some leaves after meals. Read More.

  • Aid in neurological inflammation

If used regularly, culantro may prevent you from getting neurological inflammation. Due to this, you may lessen the chances of getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Read More

Side effects of culantro:

There are no well-known side effects of culantro but the abundance of anything may harm you. A regular high dose of it can affect your kidneys. It may also cause allergic reactions to some people or may interact with the medications.

You may consult a doctor before consuming it during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Although there is no such record you know that prevention is better than cure.

More herbal information:

  1. Rosemary
  2. Tokyo Bekana
  3. Fennel Bulb
  4. Thai Basil
  5. Moringa
  6. Arugula

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