How to Grow Cilantro and Coriander - The Herb Spice Duo in The Garden
Cilantro and Coriander From the Garden to the Kitchen
Some chefs say you either like cilantro or you hate it. I have heard many chefs say they absolutely cannot stand the taste of cilantro. My husband, also known in our house as Chef David, is the chef in my kitchen. He adores cilantro so much that it is a prominent herb growing in our backyard garden. It grows very well. Now, to be honest, there was a time when I was not particularly fond of cilantro and whenever my husband prepared a meal containing cilantro I would ask him to “hold the cilantro” or set aside a portion of the meal that would not contain cilantro.
The first season Chef David harvested cilantro and brought it into the kitchen, I was immediately taken by the aroma which drew me in to taste it. To my surprise, I was pleasantly rewarded with a flavor that I can only describe as slightly nutty with a bit of lime and a hint of sweetness. It seems that the fresher the cilantro, the better the flavor.
While cilantro and coriander are products of the same plant, the flavor of each is slightly different. Cilantro has a light aroma and flavor. Coriander, on the other hand, has a more robust, pungent aroma and flavor. Because cilantro grows heartily in the garden, Chef David uses both cilantro and coriander in many of the dishes he prepares.
Cilantro and coriander is an herb/spice duo that has become a staple in my kitchen.
At the end of this article I share one of my favorite recipes, "Quick and Easy Hot and Spicy Salsa With Cilantro and Coriander."
Cilantro in My Kitchen
Plant Hardiness Zone
How to Grow Cilantro
Cilantro practically grows itself. To start, find a sunny place in your garden where you can allow cilantro to grow continuously, season after season. You can plant cilantro directly into the ground or in a container. Plant cilantro in the spring or fall, about one month before the last frost. The soil should be a pH of 6.2 to 6.8.
- Make small holes in the soil, about 1/4 inch deep and about 2 inches apart. Place a seed in each hole and then cover with a light layer of soil. The gardener in the following video, "How to Grow Cilantro or Coriander or Chinese Parsley" suggests crushing or splitting the seeds before planting, but I have never crushed the seeds and they grow anyway. I imagine the seeds germinate more quickly when spit or opened.
- Water and then keep the soil well-drained (moist but not wet).
- In about 10 days, the cilantro will germinate and you will be able to begin harvesting your cilantro in about 2 to 3 weeks.
How to Grow Cilantro or Coriander or Chinese Parsley
Once Planted Cilantro Grows Continuously
Cilantro is an annual plant. Annual plants die off every season, however before dying they produce and drop seeds to the ground. When the weather is right for the plant to grow and mature, the seeds will germinate and grow into a new plant again. Cilantro prefers cooler climates, so as the weather begins to warm, the cilantro plant begins to develop long straggly stalks with pretty white flowers at the top.
Gardeners call this “bolting.” When you see these flowers, get ready to collect some of the seeds that will surely fall to the ground. These seeds are what are called coriander.
Coriander in My Kitchen
Coriander the Spice
Coriander is the seed that forms from the cilantro plant. Coriander is the spice used in many Indian dishes, such as curry. It is also used in spice rubs for fish and chicken.
Harvesting Cilantro and Coriander
Cilantro is the leaf of the plant and typically used as an herb. Coriander is the seed of the plant and usually used as a spice. Harvest the plant according to whether you want to use it as an herb, spice, or both. The plant will self-seed itself and grow. You can also collect the seeds before they drop. Use the seeds as a spice, however, if you want to plant cilantro again, save some of the seeds for re-planting.
Harvesting Cilantro Leaves
Harvesting cilantro leaves is easy.
You can prolong the life of cilantro by harvesting in a manner that gardeners call “sustainable harvesting.” To sustainably harvest cilantro, use scissors or pinch off the cilantro stems and leaves with your fingernails. Harvest only what you need for a single meal. Because you leave the roots in the ground, the plant continues to grow until it comes to the end of its growing season.
Note: You will know when your cilantro is done growing when you see flowers start to bloom. Again, this is what gardeners call bolting. Once you see the flowers, be prepared to see the seeds (coriander). When you see the coriander seeds, you can harvest them from the flower.
Harvesting Coriander Seeds
Harvesting coriander seeds is a simple process.
- Clip the stems with the flower heads and all the seeds attached to them.
- Put the stems, flowers, and seeds into a large paper bag (flower head inside the bag).
- Tie the bag around the stems and then hang the bag upside down - outside in the sun or in a well-ventilated room for about a week or two.
- As the stems dry, the seeds fall off and into the bag. After the seeds have dried and fallen off, transfer the seeds to a large strainer and blow out some of the chafe. A hair dryer or fan comes in handy for this process.
Note: Upon opening the bag, you may notice some of the seeds are dry but have not fallen off the flower heads. No problem. Simply tap the stems with your hand or massage the flower heads to knock the seeds off.
Storing Cilantro and Coriander
Once harvested, take time to store cilantro properly. If you do not store cilantro properly, do not be surprised when you see soggy and brown leaves within a day or two. Store coriander properly or the seeds may lose their potency and become less flavorful.
Store Cilantro in a Plastic BagClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cilantro leaves do not last very long at all. If you buy cilantro in the store, be sure to use it in your next meal. In a matter of days, the leaves become wimpy and don’t taste as good as when freshly purchased or picked.
If you must store your cilantro, wash it, discarding any spoiled stems and leaves, then choose either one of the two storage methods noted below.
- Fill a glass jar with about a quarter inch of water, place the stems into the glass, place a plastic bag around the glass, and then place the container into the refrigerator.
- Wrap a slightly damp paper towel around the stems and leaves, place the wrapped cilantro in a plastic bag, and then place the wrapped package into the refrigerator. Tip: Allow for air flow. Do not seal the plastic bag.
Note: You can freeze cilantro, however when cilantro is thawed, the leaves will be limp and some of the flavor will be lost.
Store Coriander in Glass Container
After collecting and removing the chafe from the coriander seeds, place the seeds in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the contents sealed in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use the seeds whole or grounded up.
Nutrition Facts of Cilantro and Coriander
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cilantro is very high in potassium. One serving of cilantro is 100 milligrams providing 23 calories per serving. A teaspoon serving of coriander has 2 milligrams of potassium and zero calories.
The leaves are more potent than the seeds, however, both the leaves and the seeds are rich in vitamins A, C, and K. Also enjoy the benefits of more dietary fiber, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Both cilantro and coriander are rich in antioxidants that help protect against free radicals in the body. Additional benefits reported are:
- Lower sugar levels
- Lower stress
- Sleep enhancement
- Protection against cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and high blood pressure
- Prevention of urinary tract infections
- Relieving digestive discomfort
- Prevention of cancer
Coriander Oil Offers Health Protection
Coriander is one of several plants that produce oil that has been proven to ward off harmful bacteria and viruses.
“The effectiveness of cardamom, anise, basil, coriander, rosemary, parsley, dill, and angelica essential oils against pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms was examined by Elgayyar et al. They concluded that essential oils extracted from oregano, basil, and coriander plants have an inhibitory effect against P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, and Yersinia enterocolitica in the range of 400 ppm concentration.”— U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
The author is not a health care professional. While medical claims in this article are generated from medical journals and reports written by people in the medical industry, medical claims herein should not be relied upon as medical advice. Please seek the advice of your personal physician when making decisions about any medical conditions you may have.
Cooking With Cilantro and Coriander
The cilantro leaves have a citrus-like flavor which I absolutely enjoy with tomato-based recipes.
Grind coriander into a powder or use it whole. Some chefs describe the flavor of coriander seeds as sour, but I personally don’t find that to be the case. I’m not a chef, so my taste buds are not as refined. I find that coriander seeds have more of an earthy, mushroom flavor that enhances the flavor of dishes like chili beans. Also, when used in sour or tart recipes, such as pickles, coriander brings a woody flavor to the dish.
Every part of the cilantro plant is edible, including the flowers that blossom when the plant bolts at the end of its harvest. Many people use cilantro in sauces or as a garnish.
Cilantro looks like parsley, in fact many people call cilantro Chinese parsley. If you are shopping for cilantro and can't tell whether it is cilantro or parsley by looking at it, pinch a leaf and smell the aroma to determine the difference. Parsley has a barely noticeable grassy scent. Cilantro has an aromatic scent.
The flavor of cilantro and coriander is altered when cooked with heat. This is why most chefs rarely cook with cilantro or coriander. Instead, cilantro and coriander are used mainly as a garnish to be added after the preparation of the food is completed or added toward the end of the cooking process.
In some regions, coriander seeds are roasted and eaten as a snack. In India this snack is called dhana dal.
You may recognize coriander as the little brown seeds in jars of pickles. Also, I have seen and tasted coriander seeds in sausages and rye bread.
Try My Salsa Recipe With Cilantro and Coriander
If you like fresh salsa, then you might want to try making my recipe for "Quick and Easy Hot and Spicy Salsa With Cilantro and Coriander."
Enjoy Hot and Spicy SalsaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Quick and Easy Hot and Spicy Salsa With Cilantro and Coriander
Cilantro and coriander are the stars of this salsa. Cilantro gives this salsa a mild citrus flavor while the coriander adds a warm, earthy flavor. The heat comes from the cayenne pepper. For more or less heat, you may adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to fit your spice tolerance preference.
Serve this salsa as an appetizer with corn tortilla chips or as a condiment on other foods like scrambled eggs.
Ingredients for Salsa
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander, crushed
- 3 Cups Medium Roma Tomatoes (approx. 4), chopped
- 3 Cups Medium Onions (approx. 2), chopped
- 1/4 Cup Store-Bought Deli-Sliced Jalapeno Peppers, chopped
- 1/2 Cup Juice From the Jar of Store-Bought Deli-Sliced Jalapeno Peppers
- 2 Tablespoons Garlic, minced
- 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper, ground
- 1 Teaspoon No Salt Seasoning Mix
- 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, ground
- 2 Tablespoons Store-Bought Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Store-Bought Salsa Picante
Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and serve.
Whether you serve this salsa as an appetizer or condiment, it is sure to tingle the palate with the distinct flavors of cilantro and coriander.
- The salsa is ready to eat as soon as you are done mixing it in the bowl. You can, of course, cover and refrigerate the salsa to serve later. In fact, in my opinion, when the flavors have a chance to mingle for about an hour or more, the salsa takes on a richer flavor.
- Select the freshest vegetables possible for the chopped ingredients. For example, when selecting tomatoes, be sure to select firm tomatoes or the salsa will be more of a liquid texture.
Store-Bought Brands Used in This Recipe
To make this recipe quick and easy, some ingredients come from store-bought mixes. Here is a list of the brands I used to prepare this salsa. This is not a promotion of any particular brand. Ultimately, you may use the brand that you prefer or already have on your pantry shelf.
- Deli-Sliced Jalapeno Peppers – Mezzetta
- No Salt Seasoning Mix – Mrs. Dash
- Taco Seasoning Mix - McCormick
- Ground spices (excluding coriander) – McCormick
- Salsa Picante – Valentina Salsa Picante (found in the ethnic food isle)
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Source of Information
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coriander-seeds.html
Megan Ware RDN LD, Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299739.php
U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5206475/
© 2017 Marlene Bertrand