Those of us who love cilantro in the summer with zesty salsa and salads are usually out of luck. Cilantro is usually bolting and not doing well at all in the high summer heats of the south. So by the time you have lots of shiny red tomatoes fresh from the garden, the cilantro has bolted and is about over for the season. BUMMER!
But there is solution! And it’s a good one! PAPALO! (buy online here)
A friend of ours last year brought his non-english speaking grandmother for a visit to our farm. She lives full time in Mexico and was visiting family here in the US. She loves to garden and loved walking through to see the plants we had growing. She immediately saw our young plants setting off to one side of the garden and said, “Papalo”. This plant is very well known in her part of the world.
Let me just say that papalo does not taste exactly like cilantro by itself. But it’s close. When you taste it by itself, its somewhat different. But when you mix it in with a fresh salsa or Pico De Gallo recipe, you won’t be able to tell the difference. You can totally pick out that favorite cilantro flavor when eating it mixed in fresh with your recipes.
Get ready for the really exciting part. The papalo is growing fast and furious when your tomatoes are too! That means when you’re eating tomatoes, the papalo is ready and available for eating as well. Sadly, cilantro is well over and bolted from the summer heat.
Also, our papalo plants grew up to 7 feet tall last year! Amazing! We started a separate growing bed with good purchased top soil and added manure from some of our farm animals. We started from seed sowed right into the soil and kept them moist. Germination took about 2 weeks and BOOM! They started growing and there was nothing holding them back after that.
If you like cilantro and really like the flavor it provides, I would highly suggest purchasing some seeds and growing your own batch this next spring! The seeds are easy to save and grow again the next year too!
Below is one of our favorite recipes using papalo for a spring Pico De Gallo! Enjoy!
4 red tomatoes (seeded and diced)
1 small/medium white onion (finely chopped)
2-3 jalapeño peppers (seeded and chopped)
½ cup fresh papalo (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt (to taste)
Step 1: In a bowl combine tomatoes, onion, peppers and papalo. Add lime juice and salt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Enjoy!
(Makes about 2 ½ cups of pico de gallo)