What is this plant that was in our CSA box?
June 8, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

What is this plant that came in our CSA box today? The bunch is about 10-12 inches long, it smells vaguely like cilantro but without so much "soapiness", and the leaves are somewhat fennel-like. The flowers are small and pinkish to purplish.
posted by matildaben to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Pinback at 10:14 PM on June 8, 2010

If you only got the top, it's very likely Dill, but even if it's not, anytime that you get an herb that has already flowered, it's not going to be of optimal flavor.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:37 PM on June 8, 2010

Doesn't taste like dill, and the flavor is fresh so I'm sure it's optimal; my guess is that the flowers are meant to be eaten.
posted by matildaben at 10:40 PM on June 8, 2010

I don't think it's chamomile or fennel either, but the leaves look similar to both.

What does it smell like? Taste like?
posted by soviet sleepover at 10:48 PM on June 8, 2010

Cilantro does flower and it does look like that. I have noticed that the flavor of cilantro changes when the plant flowers, so perhaps that's why it seems like something else. they probably just gave you the tops because the plants were bolting and they were going to die soon anyway.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:49 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If it smells vaguely like cilantro, that would be my best guess. Those definitely aren't chamomile, fennel, or dill flowers. Cilantro flowers look a lot like that, but they're usually white-ish in color, and the leaves at the top near the flowers look more like that and not like the regular wide, flat cilantro leaves you'd expect.
posted by booknerd at 10:54 PM on June 8, 2010

Yeah, on second look the flowers look more like coriander (cilantro) than dill or anything other edible herb with similar leaves. Personally I don't know why people consider coriander 'soapy', so I'll largely pass on how much the taste changes after it flowers - to me, after flowering it just tastes more like it does when dried.
posted by Pinback at 11:01 PM on June 8, 2010

That looks an awful lot like the flowered cilantro we have occasionally received from our CSA.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:29 PM on June 8, 2010

Yep: Cilantro">Cilantro for the tasty win
posted by anitanita at 3:07 AM on June 9, 2010

ooh, linking failure. Let's try that again. Presto! Cilantro!
posted by anitanita at 3:08 AM on June 9, 2010

Yup--cilantro puts out leaves that are more thread-like when it bolts to flower.
posted by drlith at 5:17 AM on June 9, 2010

Why would the CSA send out flowered cilantro? Did they just accidentally wait too long and then threw the bunch in the box sort of as a gag, or is there a deliberate reason why you'd want cilantro at that stage? Seems bizarre to me.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:44 AM on June 9, 2010

We have cilantro in our garden, and I know what it looks like when it bolts, and this doesn't look like that. Plus, it doesn't have the flat leaves and it smells only slightly, not very, similar to cilantro.
posted by matildaben at 5:55 AM on June 9, 2010

I know it doesn't look like cilantro but it is a different variety then you are accustomed to. Our CSA had it one year as the plant itself handles summer heat and humidity better then the traditional varieties. Why you are getting that in seattle? I have no idea
posted by JPD at 6:11 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I know you say you know what it looks like when it goes to seed, but for what it's worth, this is exactly what my cilantro looks like after it has flowered / gone to seed. Leaves completely change shape and taste.

It pains me to admit how many coriander plants I have wasted by spacing out on them and not pinching off buds for that critical week in the summer when the rapidly go to seed.
posted by aught at 6:40 AM on June 9, 2010

Could it be bolted flat-leaf parsley?
posted by pomegranate at 7:23 AM on June 9, 2010

Or have you tried calling the CSA? Now you have all of us curious.
posted by pomegranate at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you could see any seeds on it, that might cinch the cilantro/not cilantro question.

(I'm voting, very very bolted cilantro)
posted by fontophilic at 7:30 AM on June 9, 2010

That really looks cilantro which has bolted. The leaves that you're familiar with are long gone at this stage as the plant switches to producing flowers and seeds. I thought cilantro wasn't edible at this point though.

Love to get confirmation from the CSA though!
posted by vivzan at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2010

It's definitely bolted cilantro.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2010

Another vote for bolted cilantro. The leaves do change shape like that, and the flavor changes significantly.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:03 AM on June 9, 2010

That looks like very, very bolted cilantro. A bit odd to include that in a CSA, if you ask me.
posted by HotToddy at 8:21 AM on June 9, 2010

Definitely Coriander/Cilantro
posted by Thorzdad at 8:30 AM on June 9, 2010

You folks are correct.... The CSA says it is cilantro that is nearly bolted, which changes the flavor substantially. I had never tried such a thing, and I am looking forward to trying it to see if it tastes good. (Yes, I am not one of the genetic cilantro-haters.)
posted by matildaben at 12:01 PM on June 9, 2010

It makes a nice fragrant bouquet filler, if nothing else. You can try to use some in food, but if it's no good, it still looks pretty.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:31 PM on June 9, 2010

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