Updated: Feb 11
A great companion plant offering many benefits and aromas at all stages of its short cycle.
I love to sprinkle freshly picked coriander leaves from the garden on various dishes. For many people, the herb tastes like soap (lol), but to me, the aroma adds a cool citrusy tone. When cooking something inspired by Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian and Moroccan cuisine, there has to be coriander! Generally, the herb is used raw for garnishing and the mature seeds, full or ground, for cooking. The leaves and the spice taste differently, which makes the plant cycles short-life worth it. And that is not all! The whole plant is edible and is also a super companion in a veggie garden as it attracts beneficial insects and repels pests. The tiny white flowers are beautiful and when the little seed fruits start to form, the whole plant has an ornamental charm. The stems are even solid enough to hold in a floral arrangement. I like sowing a bunch around long-stemmed summer flowering plants like elephant garlic, dahlias and dill as they provide a visual impact and act as support. When the fruits are mature, I harvest the dried seeds for re-sowing and cooking. I usually get two cycles in a year but success always depends on the weather conditions and location. Coriander can be a little fussy sometimes and loves cooler weather to germinate and start its cycle.
Enjoying fresh coriander from the garden • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-21
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
Coriander is also called "cilantro" by Americans. I was a bit confused with this at first when I was looking at English recipes of different provenance. In French, "coriandre" it's pretty much the same you just need to revert two letters. If you can't grow it, buy it in farmer's markets or supermarkets, place it in a jar of water straight away (like a bouquet of flowers) and refrigerate it as the thin leaves are often already soft. Freezing, drying and heating diminish the flavour of the leaves so they are just best used raw. They can garnish salads, soups, and casseroles. They are an essential ingredient for cold sauces or dips like chermoula, salsa verde, guacamole and pesto. Seeds can be used in vegetable pickling and meat marinades. An interesting fact is they are one of the most common botanicals to flavour gin. The freshly ground coriander seeds taste stronger and lovely mixed with cumin in a curry or chili con carne. Roots can also be used for an intense flavour in curry pastes and Thaï cuisine. If you want a continual crop of culinary herbs, they need to be re-sown every few weeks, especially in warmer seasons as the plant will quickly bolt to seed. Coriander is a must-have for its complex flavours and fragrance, multiple culinary uses, ornamental aspect, vitamins and a happy garden.
Beneficial coriander • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-22
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