Coriander

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Coriandrum sativum

 

History

Sometimes called Cilantro, or Chinese parsley, Coriander is a herb that people seem to love or hate. It is a member of the vast Umbelliferae family, so a great herb for attracting beneficials to your garden. Both the leaves, seeds, and roots, are popular in all kinds of Asian and Mediterranean cooking.
Coriander is believed to be one of the oldest known herbs, and is mentioned in the bible. The name Coriander is believed to be from the Greek word ‘koris’ meaning ‘bed bug’, which may refer to the aroma of its leaves or possibly the unripe seeds that are said to resemble them.

Growing

Coriander is easily grown in any free draining soil. It is best sown direct from seed where it is to grow as it does not like root disturbance. Coriander prefers some sun and reasonable moisture but will bolt to seed in our hot Hawke’s Bay summers. For best results sow mainly in Spring and Autumn. If wanting a good summer supply sow in a semi shaded position with good compost and keep moist. Leaves can be harvested rather like parsley by snipping off the outside leaves from low down. Pinching out the growing tips as they start to form buds may prolong the leaf production. Seeds are easily harvested when they turn brown, either by rubbing off into a paper bag or cutting the stems and hanging in a paper bag to fall off naturally.

Uses

Leaves are most commonly added to a range of Asian and Mediterranean dishes near the end of cooking as they lose their flavour when heated. Feature in such dishes as “Tom Yum” Soup, and “Felafel” . The seeds are popular ingredient in Indian Curries, and Mediterranean spice mixes such as ” Ras el hanout” Leaves can be frozen, but will grow all year round in Central Hawke’s Bay once established. Seed is best stored in jars or paper bags in a cool dark place. Leaves and seeds are rich in a range of vitamins, and have some antibacterial properties.