Young Coriander Plants...Cilantro
People either love it or hate it. I’m talking about cilantro (Coriandrum sativum). Cilantro is pronounced [sih-LANH-troh] and it is the leaves and stems of the coriander plant. The dried fruits of the plant are called coriander seeds and are usually referred to as a spice. The dried fruits (coriander seeds) have a warm, nutty flavor when they are ground up or chewed. Coriander was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun of ancient egypt, so it’s been around for quite a while.
The leaves taste like soap to some people. Julia Childs hated it and wanted nothing to do with it. The NY Times did an article on cilantro and offered a theory that some people are genetically inclined to dislike it. My husband used to hate it and has learned to tolerate it. I absolutely love cilantro and find it full of wonderful flavor. I love to add it to salsa and chopped avocado. I also love it sprinkled over pineapple gazpacho soup that I make in the blender. I sprinkle it over my own meal so my husband has the option to leave it out of his meal.
Coriander Plant that is Flowering and Ready to go to Seed
Coriander seeds taste very different from the leaves. When the coriander plant bolts and gets lots of flowers on it, the flowers will turn to seed. The seeds will be green and immature at first. If they are allowed to dry on the plant, they will turn brown and then can be picked and harvested as coriander seed.
Dried Coriander Seeds on the Plant and Ready to be Picked
Tons of Coriander Seed from One Plant
Our coriander seeds from last years harvest. One plant filled the entire jar. We are still eating from them. We will have lots to give away this year.
Coriander seeds are used extensively in India. They use it as a thickener as well as a spice in their cuisine. The seeds are also roasted and eaten as a snack. Indians use it medicinally as a relief for colds by boiling the dried seeds in water. In Germany, they use coriander seeds for pickling. A beer is brewed in Belgium with the seeds and paired with orange peel for a citrus flavor.
The entire plant is edible. The roots are used in soups and curries, especially in Thai cuisine. The roots cook quickly and should be added last in the cooking process. The roots are a favorite ingredient for many chefs.
Flowering Coriander...the Bees Love it.
Cilantro is a cool weather herb. When the roots reach 75 degrees, the plant will flower and go to seed (bolt). However, if it’s grown in a pot it could be moved into a cooler spot in the summer. Extra mulch helps it stay cool too. This summer we are going to try a couple of experiments so we can have our cilantro through the summer…hopefully. The plant is ready to harvest after 8 weeks when it’s grown from seed. The plant has a longer growing season if the flowers are cut off. If you let the plant go to seed, it will re-seed itself around your garden. We have coriander plants popping up in the most unusual places and we just let them grow.
Cilantro growing in an oversized pot. A chicken is using it as a nest.
Cilantro tastes wonderful with avocado, pineapple, lentils, mayonnaise, peppers, onions, garlic, tomato, tomatillo, salsa, yogurt, and ice cream…just to name a few suggestions. I found a cool recipe for cilantro ice cream at veglicious.blogspot.com and a recipe for an avocado cilantro ice cream at makelunchnotwar.blogspot.com. There is a great soup recipe at about.com with coriander, carrot, and ginger.
My favorite recipe with cilantro is a pineapple gazpacho soup that I make in my blender. The ingredients are: 4 cups chopped & peeled cucumber, 4 cups chopped pineapple, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 small jalapeno pepper (no seeds), 1 scallion (green onion), 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1-2 teaspoons salt, a bunch of cilantro leaves, 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and a few chopped nuts ( I like macadamia best). The soup should be chunky, so I don’t blend it too much. Since my husband doesn’t love the cilantro, I only add it over the top of my soup and I don’t put it into the blender. I change the recipe sometimes by substituting ingredients. It’s great for lunch in the summer on really hot days.
My daughter loves the flavor of cilantro and my son does not. However, they both love to harvest the seeds.
Come grow with us!