It’d be a shame to leave cilantro out of your microgreen garden. Growing cilantro microgreens at home will add a zesty flavor and abundant nutrients to your food without the high price tag. Like most microgreens, Coriandrum sativum is very easy to grow. It is one of the more slow-growing microgreens, but well worth the wait.
The difference between growing cilantro microgreens and just growing cilantro is all about harvest time. When it first sprouts from the seed, cilantro unfurls two grass-like cotyledon leaves. These delicious leaves taste just like cilantro, but with a smaller punch. Shortly after the cotyledon leaves emerge, the first, feathery, true leaves appear. The cilantro micro greens now have the full cilantro flavor… unless you have a certain genetic variation, which we explain in our article on growing cilantro.
Not only is this short-step method a much faster way to grow cilantro, it’s also more nutritious. Cilantro microgreens are generally healthier than their full-grown selves. Because it’s so newly sprouted, the cilantro microgreen is still getting its nutrients from the seed endosperm. As the plant matures, it relies instead on soil nutrients, which are much more variable.
In this short guide, we’ll take you through each step of turning cilantro seeds into delicious baby greens. So let’s get our hands dirty and grow cilantro – the microgreen way!
Good Products For Growing Cilantro Microgreens:
- Plant Growing Trays
- Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix
- Urban Worm Coconut Coir
- Agrobrite T5 Fluorescent Light
Cilantro Microgreens Quick Info
|Flavor:||Citrusy, cilantro flavor|
|Ideal Harvest:||10-20 days|
Growing Cilantro Microgreens
You’ll need the same materials for most microgreens. The growing process is also similar, but has a step or two specific to the cilantro microgreen.
- Seeds: Our favorites are the ones from True Leaf Market. They carry two traditional varieties, Slow Bolt and Leisure Splits, and they also have organic Slow Bolt and organic Leisure Splits if you prefer OMRI-approved seeds.
- 2+ Planting Trays: you’ll want to use trays like these trays (make sure they have drainage holes for watering)
- Growing medium: we love this Espoma seed starter mix, but you can also use coconut coir
- Light: the Agrobrite T5 is a great choice (it’s featured in our Grow Light Guide)
- Misting water bottle
- Kitchen scissors
When growing cilantro microgreens, we’ll be harvesting before the plants grow a good root system. Because of this, they can be grown in shallow planting trays. Since the young plants will be getting all their nutrients from the seed, we don’t have to worry about organic fertilizer or nutrients in the soil mix. Instead, you should use a fine-grained soil mix that will consistently provide moisture to the seed. There are soil-less options, such as coconut coir or vermiculite, but cilantro seeds don’t grow well in fully hydroponic systems. Some sort of growing medium should be used.
Cilantro microgreens grow best with consistent light. It’s easiest to use a grow light since you can time it for 12 hours or more each day. Keep the grow light close to the microgreen tray and make sure that it casts on all the plants as evenly as possible.
There’s a bit of debate about whether to soak cilantro seeds or not. The general consensus is that these seeds can go either way and still grow well. Soaking them may speed up the germination process, but doesn’t necessarily make the seeds grow faster.
If you plan on soaking the seeds, place them in a bowl of clean water for 12-24 hours (no more than a day). After that, plant them right away. You can also try crushing the seed hulls instead of soaking in water. Just put the seeds in a plastic bag and gently crush them with a rolling pin or cutting board. This will have a similar effect to soaking.
So, you can choose whether you want to crush the seeds, spread them in water, or skip this step altogether. Any of these ways should still turn each seed into quality cilantro microgreens.
Before you jump into planting those seeds, we need to get the tray ready for growing microgreens. Fill it just below the brim with damp soil, smoothing it as evenly as possible. Then, spread the seeds across the entire surface. We want them to be relatively close together, but not overlapping (about 5-8 per square inch). Cilantro microgreens need a little more spacing than other types because they’ll be growing for longer and developing more leaves. There’s no need to cover the seed with soil.
Give the seeds and soil top a misting of water and place a cover over the tray. This cover needs to block out all the sunlight so the seeds can germinate (we recommend you make use of a second tray). Cilantro microgreens need a cooler temperature to germinate than other plants, about 70° F.
Check on the seeds every few days, watering as needed. They may not germinate uniformly, but should do so within 2-6 days.
When the cilantro seeds have germinated and the sprouts start pushing up the tray cover, it’s time to treat them like plants. First, remove the tray and start using the grow light. You may see that the seed sprouts and leaves are white due to lack of light, but they’ll quickly turn green.
Mold loves a dark and wet environment, so we need to keep the soil top as dry as possible. Bottom watering is the best solution here. Fill a dish with water and set the tray on top of it. The soil mix will soak up the water while keeping the sprouts dry and mold-free.
As the cilantro microgreens grow, feel the weight of the tray each day to determine if the soil medium is ready for more water. As they start to grow in size, some of the cilantro microgreens may push the seed hull upwards with the cotyledons and leaves. Lightly brush your palm across the top of the cilantro microgreens to remove them.
It’ll be anywhere from 10-20 days until you see that the cilantro microgreens are good and ready to harvest. The cotyledon leaves will be open and green. Most importantly though, the first true leaves will have come. This window of time is the peak of flavor and nutrition for cilantro microgreens. From root to leaf, the greens should be an inch or taller.
Stop watering the cilantro microgreens 12 hours before you’re ready to harvest. This will eliminate excess moisture and prepares the greens for storage.
Now, you just have to take your kitchen scissors and get snipping! Cut the stems just above the soil level. Cilantro microgreens have a flexible harvest window, so you may opt to harvest as needed instead of all in one day.
Like any home-grown produce, cilantro microgreens taste great when used fresh. Rinse them in cold water and add them raw to salad, eggs, or your favorite Mexican dish.
If you aren’t going to use them right away, hold off on the washing step. To achieve proper storage, we want to keep the cilantro microgreens as dry as possible. Lightly press them between two paper towels and seal them in an airtight container. With this method, they’ll keep in the fridge for 5-10 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does micro cilantro taste like cilantro?
A: Yes! If you allow the first true leaves to grow in, you’ll see that the taste will be indistinguishable.
Q: Will cilantro grow back after cutting?
A: Cilantro microgreens won’t regrow because all the growth nodules are removed during harvest. Full-grown cilantro, on the other hand, is harvested and used in portions, so it will come again.
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