Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Coriander delivers from root to tip

How to cook with and preserve the fragrant cilantro leaves, the roots and stems, and the seeds


Using the green coriander seeds
Most people wait until the seeds have dried to harvest them, but if you’re adventurous, Willi Galloway, author of Grow Cook Eat (Sasquatch Books, 2012) says the fresh green seeds deliver a light, citrus flavour that shouldn’t be missed. Just clip the whole seed head while the seeds are still green and glossy, then pluck off the individual seeds. At this stage, the seeds are a lovely addition to marinades. Feeling really adventurous? Add half a dozen green seed heads to a 750 mL bottle of vodka and leave for six weeks to infuse. Galloway says the resulting coriander-flavoured spirit makes an excellent vodka tonic.

While you’re deciding what to do with your green coriander seeds, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to a year.

Drying coriander seeds
The familiar seeds are mellow with hints of pepper and orange peel. To harvest, wait until most of the seeds have turned brown, then cut the seed head and hang upside-down in a paper bag. When the seeds fall off, they are ready. But don’t get carried away with the harvest. Leave a few seed heads behind. If you’re lucky they will reward you with a crop of new coriander plants next spring, and the cycle can begin again.

Toasting the dried seeds brings out their flavour. Because the mild, bright flavour of coriander never over-powers a dish, it’s popular in meat and vegetable dishes as well as in preserves. The seeds can also be added to a bouquet garni for soups and stews. Often partnered with cumin, coriander can go solo, especially in desserts. Try adding some ground seeds to an apple crisp or butter cookie recipe. Once dried, the seeds can be stored whole in a jar in a cool dry place for up to a year.

 

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