Food preparation and storage I have found is always and issue in Central American Countries. While produce may look fabulous at the market ounce refrigerated with a day a lovely bunch of Cilantro has turned to a black mush in the bottom of your fridge.
A number of factors impact what happens to food purchased at for example the Antigua, Guatemala Market (El Mercado), most of this fresh product at the Antigua Market has been refrigerated, the sudden shock of cold appears to trun even the hardest carrot into well a soft mess. To avoid these events over the years of living in Central America and in particular Guatemala I have learned a number of tricks I plan to share with travelers over the next six months.
The first is Cilantro or “Chinese parsley” redirects here. This can also refer to the unrelated Heliotropium curassavicum. Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. A study found both the leaves and seed to contain antioxidants, but the leaves were found to have a stronger effect.
In Central America Cilantro or Coriander abounds at fresh markets. It is also easy to grow however, stopping this great spice from turning to a mess in the old crisper has been a common issue. A Mayan woman in Lake Atitlan Guatemala gave me the answer to all the problems and a means to keep this great herb fresh and crisp as the day you purchased it.
At the Antigua, Guatemala Market (El Mercado) Cilantro is sold with the roots on, in other words the herb was simply pulled out of the ground roots and all. Most likely to make room for another crop. First when you get this lovely bunch of Cilantro or Coriander home to your Casa in Antigua do not wash of refrigerate the bunch. Water and cold appear to be the killier of Cilantro or Coriander. Trim any brown or yellow leaves off of the Cilantro or Coriander bunch.
Then cut what you plan to use that day only off the Cilantro or Coriander bunch. As the pictures at the top shows this is a week old bunch of Cilantro or Coriander purchased at the Antigua, Guatemala Market (El Mercado) for about $2Q or about 25 cents for use in one of my Antigua Guatemala Recipes. I have taken a plastic water bottle cut the top off and filled with water. Then left the bunch sitting outside in the full sun. Each day I would trim off brown leaves other then that I have let the Cilantro or Coriander bunch sit in water to feed the roots.
Does this mean the flavor is lost in the Cilantro or Coriander when used in a Guatemala Food Recipe that I have prepared. Well some night I have to cook for more then two people. To date no one has said they did not feel the intense flavor of Cilantro in my various Guatemala Recipe.
Give it a try you will not be fooled again.
More Guatemala food recipes from the Yokobsens’s travel adventure to come.