July 22, 2010 § 3 Comments
Coriander is an annual herb. We grow it for both its seeds and leaves for culinary purposes. The leaf tastes totally different from the seeds. It’s seeds are known as coriander and its leaves are known as cilantro. We use the fresh coriander leaf for salads, sandwiches and salsas, in soups and curries.
Coriander flowers belong in the Umbelliferae family (parsley, dill and carrots).
The use of coriander can be traced back to 5000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest spices.
Needs a frost free period to grow but it doesn’t like extreme heat. Bretagne can be hot, hot, hot, so best to grow it early and late in the season. Sow seeds, then cover with soil and/or compost, and keep moist.
Grow in rows for easy harvesting or spread the seed over a wider area and rake it in.
If using pots ~ they cannot stand transplanting and will bolt ~ put in final pot immediately. Pot must be at least 15 cm high for the big taproot it grows to have enough space.
When coriander plants get stressed, or in hot weather, or once they reach a certain age, they stop making leaves and instead start developing a tall flower stalk. This is called bolting. The process of bolting is a natural ‘survival’ process.
I recommend not cutting this stalk out in the hope of getting more leaves. Doesn’t work. I suggest to let it flower. Coriander flowers are an important food source for beneficial insects, especially little parasitic wasps and predatory flies. Excellent for the plants in the garden! Coriander is not very greedy or competitive, and it’s light feathery stalk leaves do not make much shade, so have ’em everywhere! We do!
The leaves can be harvested before the stalk grows. Just cut or pinch them off in amounts needed.
Harvesting coriander seed is easy. Keep watering and feeding well, and wait for the flower to develop, set seeds, and the flower heads to go dry. Then cut the stalk, stick the whole thing upside down in a big paper bag and leave it in a dry spot for a couple of weeks.
After a couple of weeks shake and bash the bag and the coriander seeds fall off. Keep the coriander seeds in a cool dry place.
Coriander is used for dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite, and complaints of the upper abdomen.
Cilantro can be used in a great many different dishes, particularly Mexican and Asian dishes, like raw in salads, sandwiches and salsas or in cooked items such as bread or sateh sauce. The seeds can be dried and ground up for curries.