For centuries, Coriander has been an essential part of eastern cuisine. Whether in China, Asia or India, Coriander features prominently as an essential ingredient in any recipe. As our European tastes have broadened over the years, it is becoming more and more common to grow your own Coriander, as a part of the English herb garden.
Coriander is an annual herb, so you will need to either replace it every year or grow new plants from the seeds your current plant will produce. Coriander comes from the Apiaceae family of plants – this family includes anise, carrot, celery, dill, parsley and parsnip. The Apiaceae family consists of over 3,000 species of plant.
All parts of the Coriander plant are edible, although the leaves are most commonly used. The fresh leaves are used as they have a slightly citrus, albeit bitter, taste to them. The seeds are also used, although these have a nuttier taste to them, with a citrus taste once crushed.
Coriander likes to be in the sun, although it does like to have some shade during the hottest part of the day. It is also a sensitive plant and does not like to be moved, therefore, it is better to sow it directly into the pot you want it to grow in. If you are growing it predominantly for seed, you can leave it out in the sun throughout the day; as this will encourage it to flower and subsequently seed. If you want it for leaves, then you will need to shade it during the hottest part of the day.
If you want to grow it in pots, you will need a deep pot to accommodate the long taproot that Coriander produces. You need to keep the soil moist too, and re-sow every three to four weeks, as it is quite a short lived plant and doesn’t freeze very well.
Coriander leaves can be used as soon as the plant is big enough to cope. You can cut the leaves, or even whole stems, as and when needed as you can use both the fresh leaves and stalks in cooking. Most recipe dictate you chop them prior to using and, depending on the recipe, it is added early or late in the cooking process – early will dilute the taste; late will keep the taste.
If you want to use seeds you will need to wait for the flowers to die off before you harvest. Cut the stems long and place the flower heads into a bag, tie the bag and hang from the stems for two or three weeks. You can then shake out the seeds straight into the bag. Store the seeds in a dry place and re-sow when needed during the following spring.