Grow Your Own Coriander and Cilantro
If you’re from around these parts (this blog, that is), you know that I love cilantro. Even if you don’t care for the taste, cilantro is one of the greatest things to grow in the kitchen garden. It doesn’t take up much space, it brings in beneficial insects, and best of all, it produces something delicious besides the leaves: seeds.
And those seeds are also known as coriander.
Cilantro loves to produce seeds. I think I’ve been growing cilantro every year since 2013 or so with seeds I’ve harvested instead of bought. I have a post about how to keep cilantro from bolting because going to seed is all cilantro seems to want to do, but honestly, if it does bolt, you can just plant some more... But now you also have coriander!
Here are the simple steps to save your own coriander.
How to Save Your Own Cilantro Seeds
Step One: Let your cilantro plants go to seed
When cilantro bolts, it produces pretty little white or pale pink flowers (which pollinators love). Those flowers will produce green pods that contain coriander seeds in the making. You could eat these seeds when they’re still green (fresh coriander has a nice little spicy zing), or you can dry them if your goal is to save seeds for next season.
Step Two: Remove your cilantro plant from the garden
Take the entire thing by cutting right at the base of the plant. Leave the roots in the soil so that you don't disturb your other plants. I recommend planting a new round of cilantro so that you'll still be able to enjoy fresh leaves.
Step Three: Hang cilantro to dry
Hang your herbs to dry completely out.
I have an old picket fence in my garden, and when I’m not expecting any rain, I like to hang my herbs to dry by wedging their branches between the wooden slats of my fence. You could also tie your herbs to the fence with some twine.
Leave them hanging until there’s no more green on the stems. In the title picture, the cilantro on the right has been up for one day longer than the cilantro on the left and is already mostly brown.
Step Four: Rub the coriander seed pods off the stem
Once the pods are dry, it’s easy to rub them off the stem with your hand (though you could also store the herb stem and all). Rinse the seeds in a kitchen strainer and remove any little extra parts from the pods, trying not to crush the coriander.
Step Five: Store the coriander seeds
If you’re going to plant the seeds, they need some time to rest first. These are seeds for next year, so use seeds from a seed packet for this summer if you're planting a fresh round. I’ll use seeds I saved last summer when I plant more cilantro in the fall once the temps have dropped a bit.
You can probably harvest at least 500 seeds from three cilantro plants. Hope you love coriander seeds on everything!
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What Is Coriander Used for?
I toss coriander on salads and in stews and sautéed dishes—it’s a great spice to add flavor to a variety of meals. Coriander seeds have a wonderful spicy citrus flavor.
You can enjoy coriander seeds fresh, grind them, or toast them, which heightens their flavor. To toast coriander, simply cook the seeds in a dry pan on the oven for a couple of minutes on medium heat before crushing them with a pestle or the flat side of a knife.
If you crush the seeds to make your own coriander seasoning, it's best to enjoy it fresh. Ground coriander loses flavor quickly.
Coriander is a popular spice in garam masala and Indian curries. You might also see coriander used in pickling recipes.
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I hope this encourages you to harvest your own seeds, my friends, whether to add spice to meals or to become next year's plants! The garden gives us so much, most of it delicious (even if you hate cilantro)!