Have you been trying to know the difference between these two herbs, particularly as they share nearly the exact spelling? Although they look different in appearance, they share a lot. We will add more strength to this claim as we proceed. Keep reading!
Culantro vs. Cilantro
Culantro and cilantro are both herbs of different origins. Although they are both of the Apiaceae family, culantro has a far more profound flavor. Regardless of this dissimilarity in flavor profile, both can replace each other in a dish that requires either. However, substituting culantro with cilantro will require more cilantro to make it up. Also, if you are to substitute cilantro with culantro, you will need less culantro. This guide will further explain the meaning of each, their nutritional value, and their differences.
What is Culantro?
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) looks like lettuce and has leaves surrounding a knotted core. The length of the plant is around one foot tall, while the leaves are around two-inch broad. Its flower is blue when it bolts. Culantro belongs to the Apiaceae family, and some members are celery, parsnip, parsley, and carrot.
The herb serves both culinary and medicinal purposes. As a culinary herb, you can add leaves during cooking. Its intense flavor and aroma hardly die down under heat.
You can find culantro in the tropical areas of America and the West Indies. But cilantro is native to the Mediterranean and was later brought to America after Europe colonized them. Culantro has several names people identify it as.
What does Culantro taste like?
The taste of culantro is spicy and bitter, with a soapy flavor. Its flavor is identical to cilantro’s, but it is more profound. Some people equate the taste to squeezed stinkbugs (burnt rubber or skunky) or crushed bedbugs (musty and sweet). The description indicates that not everyone will like the flavor or culantro. However, its spice can add a unique taste to your dish.
What is Cilantro
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a plant with elongated leaves that grow in spirals. Some people call it Mexican or Chinese parsley, while they call the seeds Mexican coriander. Whereas culantro’s leaves grow in rosettes, the cilantro leaves are scallop-shaped and expand on the end of an extensive, slender stem. In addition, cilantro grows annually, while culantro is a biennial plant.
The fragrance and taste of both herbs are similar, but culantro Is a bit stronger, as much as ten times stronger. Thus, you should add more culantro when cooking the same dish with either of them. Since it has a powerful essence, the culantro can withstand high heat. But the delicateness of cilantro will not allow that. Therefore, you can add it to your cooking when you bring the pot down.
What Is the Difference Between Cilantro and Culantro?
While it is easy to confuse cilantro with culantro, both have some distinctness. Apart from their flavors that are a bit different, their appearances are also peculiar. To differentiate them, here are some tips:
Cilantro vs Culantro in Taste
As we already know, culantro possesses a pungent taste. It serves as a unique flavor to your soup, salad, or stew. The flavor can easily blend with nearly all meals. So, you can add the herb as an ingredient to your favorite meal.
On the other hand, cilantro has a milder flavor, which can serve better as a garnish. It is subtle and abhors exposure to intense heat. Thus, you can add it to the dish after cooking to avoid losing the taste.
In a nutshell, both herbs’ flavors are similar but differ in intenseness. If you want to get the best of cilantro in your culantro, you have to reduce the quantity of culantro in your meal. Similarly, suppose you will substitute the zest of culantro with your cilantro. In that case, you can add more of it to your meal. Hence, you are to adjust the herbs to get what you want.
Cilantro vs. Culantro in Appearance
Cilantro is broad-leaved with long, slender, and notched leaves that look similar to Chinese cabbage. Again, some people identify it as Chinese parsley or coriander.
Both leaves look so different from each other. Hence, they would hardly confuse you when you want to but either of them. Culantro has the same features as that sharp-edged seaweed.
Some people do not add the edges of the leaves when cooking. But you can trim off cilantro leaves and use it to garnish your meal.
Cilantro vs Culantro in Uses
You can find more cilantro in European and North American meals. The climates in these continents are suitable for the plant’s growth. Add cilantro to Mexican dishes like salsa, taco, salad, and guacamole. They primarily serve as garnish, not ingredients.
Cilantro vs. Culantro in Health Benefits
Researchers can come up with the richness of culantro in the following nutrients:
- Calcium: Culantro is rich in calcium, making it potent in developing solid bones. They also aid in maintaining muscles, nerves, and heart functions.
- Iron: This mineral is helpful in the growth and development of your body. It also adds to the formation of hemoglobin, a protein in the blood vessel that helps circulate oxygen.
- Riboflavin: Also called vitamin B2, riboflavin helps the body break down food nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. After breaking them down, it converts them into energy.
- Carotene: This is the function of carotene into vitamin A (retinol) when it enters the body. The vitamin helps to strengthen the immune system and healthy vision.
In addition, culantro leaves are medicinal to the body and help treat diabetes, constipation, flu, and fever. Aside from serving as ingredients to your meal, they can be boiled into a tea to stimulate your appetite.
On the other hand, you can find the following in your cilantro:
- Vitamin A: This vitamin is responsible for clear vision. If you want to enjoy healthy eyes, you need more cilantro.
- Vitamin C: To ensure a robust immune system, you must eat cilantro. It is also believed to cure a cold.
- Vitamin K: Among its diverse roles, it is valuable for developing strong bones. You can say it functions like calcium. However, it aids the calcium in your body to work correctly.
- Folate: Also called folic acid, folate functions as a prenatal vitamin. Pregnant women need it to avert potential congenital disabilities during fetal development. That said, everyone needs folic acid. Such life-threatening diseases like cancer bow to it.
As such, you might confuse cilantro with parsley since they look more alike than cilantro does with culantro. You can distinguish cilantro by looking at its rounded, scallop-shaped leaves. Parsley has more pointy leaves and a typically darker green color than culantro.
You can use either herb for similar purposes since they are interchangeable. Their differences come from the areas where people commonly use them. For instance, culantro is more common in Caribbean dishes and Central and South American cuisine. Some Asian countries that use culantro include Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Meanwhile, cilantro herbs are more common in North American and European dishes. Countries in these continents have climates suited for cilantro plant growth. Mexican words incorporating cilantro in their recipes include guacamole, salsa, taco, and salads. Adding this herb to dishes is easy since it serves as a garnish mostly.
Can you substitute culantro for cilantro?
In most dishes, you can substitute both for each other. They have closely related fragrances and tastes. However, culantro can withstand prolonged heat while retaining its flavor. This is in contrast to how cilantro can react to heat. Also, if you dry the culantro, it can maintain its taste. Still, cilantro, due to its delicateness, tastes like tissue paper.
What does culantro taste like?
Culantro has a more pungent taste of parsley, with sharp citrus essence. Despite how widely acceptable its taste can be, some do not feel at home with it.
What is culantro used for?
The plants are essential in the curing of vomiting, fever, and chills, as well as diarrhea. Also, Jamaicans use it for the treatment of convulsion and cold in younger ones.
Similarly, you can boil the leaves and roots, then drink the water to eliminate pneumonia, diabetes, fever, constipation, and catarrh.
Can I use culantro in guacamole?
Culantro can serve the role of cilantro in your guacamole. It also serves as a vital ingredient in stew, salsa, and soups.
Is epazote the same as culantro?
In comparison, the two share the same undertone of citrus flavor. However, epazote is far bitter. Again, in the US, you can easily find culantro in grocery shops than you can come across epazote. But when cooking them, you can add an equal quantity of them to similar dishes.
Can you eat fresh cilantro?
You can combine fresh cilantro with lime in your soups, curries, and any of your favorite Asian dishes. The leaves and stems are suitable for your dish, but the stem adds a more bitter flavor. That is why most people hardly add the stem to their food.
Cilantro and culantro are two herbs that confuse people greatly because of their diverse similarities. However, we believe in having done justice to them by differentiating them and acknowledging their similarities. Hence, if you are among the people who rarely identify them, this can serve as a guide.