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Coriandrum sativum

By Shirley Miller
Coriandrum sativum

Coriander is an annual plant with divided foliage and small white or pale mauve flowers. The upper leaves are fine, threadlike and bright green in color. The lower leaves, called cilantro, are scalloped and broad similar to flat leafed parsley. Both upper and lower leaves have a pungent odor. Coriander grows to 2 feet in height.

How to grow: Thin seedlings to 8 inches apart. Keep well watered. This plant is prone to early "bolting" to seed if weather becomes unseasonably warm. Coriander is not usually grown indoors.

Propagation: Propagate Coriander by planting seeds early in spring. Plant away from fennel, which seems to suffer from its presence.

Harvesting: Pick young leaves anytime. Pick seeds when they turn brown.

Preserving: Dry or freeze individual leaves. Dry seeds and store whole. Infuse with vinegar. As with most green leaf herbs, place the stems in water and store in the refrigerator up to a week to retain freshness.

Culinary uses: Many thousands of years ago in ancient China, Coriander was used as a boiled root vegetable. Today, it seasons polenta, cheese, fruits, meats, pickles, puddings, salads and soups. This versatile seasoning seems to please the international palette. More recently, we have introduced chutney and salsa containing Coriander into our diets. Almost any fruit or fresh vegetable, combined with onion, coriander and a touch of lime juice makes a wonderful salsa. Coriander seeds are used in curries, sausages and chili.

Other uses: Use seeds in potpourri.