Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Nearly every part of the coriander plant is used. It is consumed for its leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Each section of the plant offers a different flavour.
Coriander is native to the Mediterranean, though its usage quickly spread throughout the world.
The fresh green seeds have an unsavoury smell that disappears when dried to a sweet and spicy flavoured small pale brown seed. Coriander is considered a member of the carrot family.
Coriander has a distinctive zesty, aromatic flavour, similar to a blend of lemon and sage.
Coriander leaves are best added at the end of cooking or as a garnish on dish as heat can reduce its potency. The flavour of coriander leaves are quite distinctive people generally love or dislike the flavour.
The aroma is refreshing, soapy, piney, slightly lemony aroma with mint and pepper overtones.
Coriander is an essential ingredient in Thai, Mexican, Moroccan and Indian cuisine and is at home in curries, salsas, stir fries, tagines and fajitas. It marries beautifully with chicken, beef, chilli, lemongrass, garlic, mint, fish sauce and soy sauce.
Propagation of coriander is via seeds. Soaking seeds in water before planting will promote germination. If grown in a tropical and hot climate plant in a partly shaded area. If the plants are not provided with a sufficient amount of water they can quickly bolt to seed.
The best time for seed germination is when the temperature has been consistently warm (20⁰C) for a fortnight. If growing for its leaves put it in light shade. If you’re wanting the seeds, both sun and little water will make it seed. Coriander does not like extreme heat, if it experiences this, it will bolt to seed. Coriander in the garden attracts pollinators such as bees.
It is said that coriander will create a larger crop of seeds if grown with anise. It is advisable not to grow near fennel as the fennel will be unlikely to germinate or seed.
The seed of coriander was used in Chinese cooking more than 5,000 years ago and was mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. It was used extensively in the Elizabethan times but fell out of fashion until last century when there was a rise in popularity of Indian and Caribbean cuisines. Coriander seeds were placed in Tutankhauman’s tomb.
In AD812 the Emperor Charlemagne ordered for coriander, as well as 70 other herbs to be grown on Imperial farms. Its use in Chinese medicine is first recorded in the Han dynasty.
In the Middle Ages coriander was used in love potions. In recent years a study was done in Japan and Russia showing that is contained a substance that killed bacteria. Traditionally it has been used as a stomach tonic. Inhaling the aroma of freshly crushed seeds was said to help cure dizziness in the ancient time.
In the past coriander has been used to treat migraines and indigestion to help purify the blood and to relieve nausea, pain in joints and rheumatism. It has been suggested by research that coriander assists in cleansing the body of lead, aluminium and mercury.
Facts About Coriander
Coriander seeds are added to many medicines, making them more palatable. A young plant if bruised gives out a strong odour that has been linked with bedbugs. When the plant matures this odour is lost completely.
What is the Difference between coriander and cilantro?
Both come from the same plant, in general coriander is the seed of the plant and cilantro is the leaf. However in Australia all sections are referred to as coriander.
Does coriander self-seed?
The coriander seed will self-seed though you can help it along. To maximise the chance of germination rub the fruit with two hands to separate the two seeds that are in the fruit pod. Then place the seed in some clean water
Can you freeze coriander?
There are multiple methods in how you can freeze coriander, one is to chop it up in a food processor, add olive oil and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze. Once frozen these can then be used individually. The second method is to put the coriander into a zip lock bag and squeeze all the air out of it, put this in another bag and then put in the freezer.
Help! My coriander keeps bolting
Coriander bolts to seed when it experiences too higher heat conditions and too little water. To avoid bolting, plant your coriander in a partly shaded area and provide the plant with ample water.