Coriander seeds: how to grow it and what uses it can have
Easy to cultivate, delicious in many dishes
Known since ancient times, this aromatic plant with a fragile appearance and similar to parsley is very easy to grow and - if sown at the right time and with the right climate - it grows abundantly without any problems.
Besides its leaves, even coriander seeds can be used in the kitchen. It belongs to the same family as fennel, dill and parsley, aromatic umbellifers with which it shares a high percentage of essential oil contents.
Classified by Linneo in 1753 with the name Coriandrum sativum, Plinio mentions it in his “Naturalis historia” and the latin writer Apicio mentions it in his collection of recipes, naming it as an ingredient for a sauce. This aromatic essence takes its name from the greek one for bedbug, of which various of its green parts have its smell, whilst another etymology connects the word to a pupil, which coriander seeds resemble. The origin place is uncertain but there are depictions of it in ancient Egypt, and it is cited in greek texts from the period in between 1500 and 1050 b.C.
In fact, coriander seeds take root easily in any type of mild and subtropical climate, and the plant was largely found and used already in very ancient times in the entire mediterranean area, especially in coastal regions.
Cultivation of coriander seeds
The sowing and growing should happen in a mild climate, with temperatures already quite high but not excessively , because this plant fears both frosts - it cannot survive the cold, unlike for example rocket - and great heat, from which flowering would be too early.
The most suitable period, of course, varies with the years and according to regions, but ideally goes from march to may, in the open ground (this essence does not like being transplanted), on light and permeable grounds, exposed to partial shade for a part of the day.
It is sown in rows about 30 cm apart, at a depth of 0.5/1 cm and watered abundantly, making sure to keep the soil always humid but not fully wet. From coriander seeds, it will sprout in 2 or 3 weeks, an overall resistant seedling, but sensitive to fungal attacks in case of excessive humidity, resulting in a general weakening that might also facilitate specific aphid attacks.
Because from cilantro - name with which it is called in Spanish speaking countries - fresh leaves are used before everything else, it is advisable to repeat the sowing at regular intervals, to intensify its production and have a constant availability. Once seedling have reached a height of circa 5cm, you can carry out a light nitrogen based fertilization, manually uprooting the specimens that grow too close to each other, and that can be used already anyways. The harvest can start when the plants from coriander seeds have reached 10 or 15 centimeters; the cutting can be done at circa 1/3 of the height and the regular cycle of life - which is annual - should be possibile other two/four cuttings. Because only the younger leaves are edible - the older ones are bitter - once the blossoming has started, we should start exploiting the coriander seeds production because no news leaves will be produced.
To harvest coriander seeds, once the umbrellas are dried out, these are shaked inside a bag or are manually shelled. Alternatively, the seed can be left to fall on the ground, so that they will be naturally planted by themselves, always remembering that the plant does not handle frost.
Use of coriander leaves and seeds
All the parts of the plant are aromatic, but it seems that to some their particular smell and taste are not particularly liked. Those who love their smell and taste can enjoy them in a variety of dishes and pairings, common especially in south America and middle eastern cuisines.
The seeds thinly minced produce an okra colored powder, that when added to salt, onion cubes and lime juice creates - along with chopped tomatoes - a classic condiment in which nachos are dipped, the corn “chips” of Mexican cuisine.
Another classic pairing is in the condiment for grilled fish, again with lime or lemon juice and garlic. The coriander seed powder can be found in some cured meats, in "garam masala" and other condiments used in Indian cooking, while the fresh leaves can ideally be added to any type of green salad that we eat