||Coriander, Cilantro, Chinese Parsley
Coriander is a quick growing annual herb commonly used in Mediteranean, South American, Indian and South-east Asian cooking.
IN warm weather, they quickly go to seed.
They need to be planted regularly to ensure a continuous fresh supply.
The dried leaves lose their flavour.
All parts of the plant are used.
For example, the basal leaves (Chinese parsley) are used for garnishing, the upper leaves (cilantro) are used in soups, the ground seeds (ketumbar) is an essential ingredient in curry mixtures, and the roots are used in Thai cooking.
||In containers for transplanting later, or direct where it is to grow.
Sow the seeds where they are to grow or in containers for transplant later. Sow 3-4 seeds and optionally thin down to one plant later. Sow to a depth of 0.5cm. Be patient - coriander takes a long time to germinate.
Coriander will bolt if the roots are damaged while transplanting. If you are sowing into containers, make sure you transplant the contents of the whole container into the ground. Do not try to break it up into several plants.
Plant in the Sprint / Summer for the leaves, and in the Autumn for the seeds. If you live in areas where there are severe frosts, then it is better to plant in the Spring. You will still get some seeds, but not as many as if you planted in the Autumn.
Full Sun is best for coriander, though part shade is OK. Choose a site that gets at least 4 hours of sunlight a day. The soil must be well drained but kept moist. Do not use fertilizers that are too high in nitrogen.
If planting for the basal leaves, cut the plant 3-5cm above ground. The leaves will regrow if you feed it a little. The upper leaves, cilantro, only grows when the plant is about to flower. When you pick these, cut the flowering stem off altogether. This will encourage the side stems to flower, producing more cilantro. What I normally do is cut for the basal leaves first, then let it grow to the bud stage before cutting for cilantro. I will cut for cilantro 2-3 times, then let the plant go to seed.
The flowers are scented and usually lasts a few weeks. The flowering stems are thin and weak, and will naturally bend down.
I usually leave the seeds (actually fruit) on the plant until they turn brown. Cut the stem off and rub the loose seeds into a paper bag.
You can harvest them earlier if you like - when some of the seeds turn brown. Cut the whole flowering stem off and hand upside down inside a paper bag. Give the bag a shake every so often. The dry seeds will drop into the bag.
If you are saving seeds to use as spice, dry the seeds for a few months before using them. This matures the aroma.
Culinary use: The basal leaves and cilantro are used for garnishing, for example, soups. Try dropping a few leaves into a green salad. Thai cooking uses the roots - these are ground to a paste and either used as a condiment or mixed into curry pastes. A number of Indian curry mixes uses the ground seeds. Grind the seeds only when you need them as the ground seeds quickly lose flavour.