Cilantro is one of those herbs
that you either love or hate. We love the fresh taste that it imparts to
fresh side dishes like guacamole and salsa. Leaves are best used fresh
but are sometimes dried and ground with their seeds. Both seeds by
themselves and this ground mix are referred to as Coriander.
Whole seeds are often added to spice blends where they impart a subtle
citrus tang. They can be added to savory dishes or sweet ones.
Pudding Spice is a traditional English blend that includes not only
Coriander seeds but also cinnamon, allspice, cloves, freshly grated
nutmeg and ground ginger and is used to flavor pudding. Coriander seeds
also make an appearance in the North Indian spice blend Garam masala.
Here it is mixed with cumin, cardamom, black peppercorns, cloves, mace,
bay leaf and cinnamon.
Cilantro is a cool weather annual
which should be planted in spring as soon as frost is no longer a threat. It
fares best where springs are long and cool. Summer temperatures can cause
the plant to flower before it gets to a harvestable size. If seeds are
desired, leave the flowers on until the seed pods turn brown.
The flowering Cilantro plant above is about four feet high. Once
Cilantro starts to flower it stops making leaves and the leaves left
become less and less tasty. Normally this would be the time to devote
this garden space to another plant, but we let this Cilantro flower to
attract beneficial insects, and produce seeds.
As the seeds turn
brown, they can be harvested to use as Coriander. If, however, they are
left on the plant, they will fall to the ground and more Cilantro will
grow at the appropriate time of year.