Through the hot and humid days of this summer, the greenhouse at Beach Plum Farm has protected the cooler weather plants in the heat of the scorching sun. In the winter time, the greenhouse serves to protect plants from the wind and cold. In the summer, it yields vast harvests of herbs that grow best in the shade and cool conditions. Among these plants are basil, purple basil, arugula, and to the surprise of many, cilantro. Cilantro is often times used in Mexican dishes, and therefore when we think of cilantro we think of warmer climates. The origins of this herb, however, lie halfway across the world rather than just over the border.
Cilantro is the name given to the leaf that comes from the coriander seed. Its origins are said to be found in the Mediterranean and was spread to Asia by the Ancient Romans. When the Spanish Conquistadores brought the plant to Mexico it quickly became a part of the cuisine in Central America. This is evident in the ways that cilantro is used at the Blue Pig Tavern. Chef Jeremy Einhorn says that the cilantro grown in the greenhouse is used primarily in the guacamole which is a favorite starter at the Blue Pig. It also adds a fresh flavor to the mussels, which are steamed in white wine, tomato, garlic, onion and cilantro. According to the Chef it adds the perfect finish and “gives a bright, herbal, clean flavor to anything you put it in.”
Looking forward to the fall, farm manager Jaime Alvarez has planted a bed of cilantro outside of the greenhouse close to the herb garden. Even though it is still warm, Alvarez says that the plants will emerge healthy as long as the ground is kept very moist. Over the next few weeks, the second half of summer in Cape May will continue to be filled with beach days and barbecues. The farm is constantly looking forward to the next season, rotating crops in and out of the greenhouse to bring the freshest food from the farm to the table year-round. From guacamole to garnish, guests know that their meals took root in the ground less than two miles from the place where we savor them.