Beginning each fall and into winter we enjoy one of the most coveted herbs in our garden. This part of the year is always the best time to grow cilantro in the MS delta as our sweltering hot summers are just too much for these cool weather herbs.
But, as soon as the heat breaks, seeds from last years crop begin to sprout and soon we have a beautiful carpet of bright green, aromatic cilantro. Each spring, after we’ve eaten our fill, the plants “bolt” or flower and make thousands of hard, round seeds. We save a few, the rest are just incorporated into the soil and summer crops (tomatoes or squash) are planted in the same spot. Then, sometime in the fall after summer veggies have long gone, we get a good soaking rain, the air cools and tiny cilantro plants begin to emerge where their ancestors stood the previous spring. Nature just knows when to start the process all over again. Cilantro plants can survive and recycle themselves this way providing years of salsa happiness.
We make around 10 gallons of salsa during the summer months and freeze what we don’t eat right away – sans cilantro. During the summer, buying cilantro in the store is our only sad, insipid option for adding this required ingredient to our salsa. Only the anxiously awaited arrival of our fresh, pungent garden cilantro brings real life back to our favorite condiment. Salsa is thawed as needed and fresh cilantro is added minutes after harvest when it’s at its most aromatic. It’s a rare winter day when the scene pictured below is not played out on our kitchen counter before dinner.
Here, summer and winter come together deliciously here in a Tupperware container. Of course, time consuming and careful tasting on chips is required to obtain the perfect salsa/cilantro balance. Plant some cilantro next fall and enjoy!