Collecting Coriander and Self sowing Cilantro

Home grown coriander stright from the garden

Home grown coriander seeds are inexplicably better than any you could ever find in a store. The flavor is clear, sweet and almost smokey, a bit reminiscent of caraway. Even the expensive coriander I purchased at a specialty shop doesn’t come close to comparing to what I found in my front yard. Coriander is often pigeon holed as over powering or bitter, come to think of it, the cheaper stuff does leave a musty, metallic after taste. Quite frankly if I had know how much better fresh coriander seed really is, I would have made an effort to save more of it!

Green seeds not quite ready to harvest and store

I came in to this cache of fresh coriander seed by default. Cilantro is almost a weed in my garden, it bolts so quickly and self sows everywhere! One day, unannounced a large drift of cilantro appeared it what was supposed to be the broccoli patch, having every intention of clipping it back, I left the cilantro alone, instead of pulling it up like weeds. Soon the cilantro dwarfed the broccoli, it took over with its masses of white parasolesque flowers, the blooms gave way to an abundance of green seeds and before I knew it the broccoli was buried under a dried up heap of spent cilantro plants.

Cilantro in bloom

Now that I am into garden clean up mode, I decided to deal with that cilantroy section and wouldn’t you know it, the ground was thick with cilantro seeds(coriander), beside guaranteeing ample cilantro production for next year, before I composted the dried up plants I plucked out as many seeds as I could. I highly doubt I will need to plant any cilantro myself, mother nature seems to be taking care of that but I did end up with a whole bunch of home grown coriander to cook with. I would have never purposely grown coriander as a spice, the yield per square foot is just not very high, over about four square feet of cilantro I got about ½ a cup of dried coriander seeds.

Cilantro flower

You don’ t need to do much preparation to save cilantro seed, if it’s a dry day the seeds should be ready to put away right out of the garden, you know it’s time to harvest cilantro seed once the plants have total dried up and the seeds are crusty and beige, if it’s been rainy spread them on a dry towel in doors for a couple days. store in a plastic bag, paper envelope, mason jar or however you normally store spices. To get the most out of cooking with coriander, toast the whole seeds in a bit of oil or butter for a minute or two until they become fragrant, then grind them with a mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Warning! Don’t use your ever day coffee grinder for spices, you will never get the spice smell out of it, keep your coffee grinder exclusively for coffee and get a second grinder for spices, unless you like curried coffee?

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