A native of Mexico, the Culantro plant is an easy herb to grow.
Besides being used as an herb, the Culantro plant is also often used as a spice in the many Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian cuisines.
It has a strong aroma so it is often grouped as aromatic herbs.
Get to know the Culantro Plant
Culantro plant (Eryngium foetidum) is a biennial plant that is widely used as an herb, especially for the people of Central and South America.
Some often refer to it as Black Benny, Puerto Rico Coriander, Saw Leaf Herb, Fittweed, Spiritweed, and Spiny Coriander.
Like its close relative, cilantro, the culantro plant has tall, serrated leaves that can germinate in the long spring days.
Compared to coriander, culantro has a stronger and more distinctive taste and aroma.
Therefore, this culantro is only used in small quantities.
As a medicinal herb, culantro turns out to be able to combat colds, diabetes, constipation, and fever when consumed in the form of tea.
In addition, this tropical plant also has other good ingredients such as iron, calcium, riboflavin, and carotene which have very good effects on body health.
This plant belonging to the Apiceae family can grow as high as 1 foot with leaf widths that reach 2 inches if planted the right way.
If you want to grow a culantro plant, here’s a quick guide that you can follow.
How to Grow Culantro Plant
Culantro plants can be grown either from seed or from stem cuttings.
Growing a culantro plant from seed is a little slower, but once established it will produce leaves that are fresh until the first frost.
As with lettuce, the best time to plant culantro is in the spring after the last frost date.
Plant culantro in well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 to 7.5.
You can add a few inches of aged compost or other organic material to help nourish your culantro plant.
If starting from seed, start from the inside as these culantro seeds are very small.
By starting it from the inside, the bottom heat is able to facilitate its germination.
When growing multiple culantro plants, it’s a good idea to space them 8-12 inches apart as they will grow and require more space.
After germination occurs, you can transplant the seedlings into pots or directly into the soil.
This plant is best grown in partial shade and fertile areas with lots of moisture.
If exposed to heat, the aroma and taste will decrease.
Immediately after planting, water the soil until it is moderately moist because they love moisture.
Harvest culantro leaves after 10 weeks from sowing.
Culantro Plant Care
In its natural environment, the culantro plant thrives in shady and humid areas.
When placed in a shady area, culantro plants tend to bloom with light green spiky flowers and leafless stalks.
Water every time the top few inches of soil feel dry.
You can stick your finger into the soil to check the soil moisture.
Consider adding organic mulch to keep your culantro plant out of weeds and to reduce watering.
Encourage leaf production by pinching or cutting off the stems.
Support also by giving your culantro plant liquid plant regularly.
This plant is classified as having easy maintenance.
In addition to the above requirements, they also tend not to require additional care because they are relatively free of pests and diseases.
How to Harvest and Store Culantro Plants
For the harvest itself, you can do it after 10 weeks from seeding which usually occurs before the long days of summer and high temperatures arrive.
At that time, the culantro plant will grow from its rosette, extending upwards with fast-growing stalks to bloom and then form many small seeds.
This is the same as what happened to the lettuce which is still a close relative.
After that, the plant will run out and die, but the seeds that fall will grow back into new plants.
You can take or chop the large outer leaves one by one for immediate use.
However, if you plan to store it, harvest the entire rosette at ground level using a knife.
Next, put the culantro leaves in a food processor with a little extra olive oil to moisten them so that the taste lasts longer.
Another way is to chop it first and mix it with olive oil and then put it in a container and store it in the freezer.
Having almost the same characteristics as coriander, culantro can also be used in many dishes such as cilantro.
Beef and chicken soup, some Puerto Rican specialties such as sofrito are some examples of Culantro processing.
This time we will give an example of how to make Puerto Rican Sofrito with culantro.
Sofrito is a basic ingredient in a type of sauce used to flavor many Caribbean dishes.
Culantro itself is the main ingredient used in its manufacture.
Additional spices to make this Puerto Rican sofrito include shallots, garlic, and sweet peppers known as ajies dulces.
This may be an optional option, olives and capers can be added to enrich the taste.
How to Make Puerto Rican Sofrito with Culantro
After preparing all the ingredients.
The first step you can take to make Puerto Rican sofrito is to add the olives and capers to the bowl of a food processor or blender for blending.
Then, add the onion and garlic and stir until evenly combined.
Add paprika and blend again.
Now it’s time to add the culantro leaves to the bowl of a food processor or blender to stir again.
If the bowl doesn’t have enough space, you can divide it into two stirrers.
You have successfully made Puerto Rican sofrito.
Store in an ice cube tray then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid.
You can use it whenever you need it by cutting it according to your need.
Don’t worry if you see it getting darker.
This is a natural thing.
Puerto Rican sofrito stored too long will turn darker in color.