Getting to the Core
Coriander is an herb that natively grows in the wild in Southern Europe and is a member of the carrot family. It is domesticated and cultivated in most of the world, making it fresh and available year round. One of the nice things is that coriander is completely edible from the leaves, flowers, seeds, and stalks to the roots, so no part of the plant has to go to waste. The two portions of the plant that have the most applications are the seeds and leaves.
A unique note about the coriander plant is that there is a split consensus on whether or not the plant has a delicious taste or a fetid, awful smell. Some are definitely intolerant of the taste and smell, while those who enjoy coriander attribute the taste to something like a blend of caraway, lemon, and sage.
Coriander seeds are tiny, pale yellow balls that are sold dried and either ground or whole. Coriander seeds are used most commonly in Middle-Eastern and European cooking where they are integral parts to curry, black puddings, pickling spices and sausage seasonings. Like roots, stalks and flowers, coriander seeds can be used in soup stock or brewed into a tea to add a citrusy and herbaceous flavor.
Coriander Leaves (Cilantro)
Coriander leaves are often called cilantro or Chinese parsley. Cilantro is a common ingredient used in a lot of Southwestern and Latin cuisine. It can be served in salads, alongside meat dishes and as a pesto base, among other things. When selecting coriander leaves, ensure that they are very green and have a strong aroma, otherwise they will not add any flavor. Coriander leaves do not store well – they must be submerged in a jar of water in the fridge for about a week and require frequent water changes to prevent spoilage.
The entire coriander plant has several medicinal uses. All parts of coriander stimulate appetite and the secretion of digestive fluids, which can help settle stomachaches. Weak tea can be brewed from the seeds and leaves and administered to children under the age of 2 to help with colic. Essential oils in the seeds have anti-bacterial properties, which can be used to treat wounds and stave off fungal and bacterial infections in plants. These same anti-bacterial qualities allow the seeds to act as preservatives for meat as they kill meat-spoiling bacteria. Coriander seeds are rich in antioxidants.
Growing Your Own
Coriander is exceptionally easy to grow and makes a great addition for any home herb garden. Planting in warmer, drier climates is ideal and it will need very little maintenance aside from routine watering. Harvest happens somewhere around 90 days after planting your coriander or when your seeds become ripe and emit a pleasant, sweet smell. To harvest cilantro leaves, you will have to plant during the summer season.
If you have any tips on growing coriander or have any interesting recipes using coriander or cilantro, tell us about in the comments section. Also, don't forget to rate your favorite recipes using coriander as an ingredient!
Coriander Recipes Pictured Above