Cilantro and coriander

A couple of months ago we wrote about bolted plants in the garden. When plants bolt they send up tall stems and flower, often changing the flavor of otherwise tasty leaves. This is a signal of the end of the plant’s season and is often triggered by hot conditions.

If you’ve left any brassicas or lettuces in your garden, you’ll likely have seen them bolt by now! But many herbs are also sensitive to the heat - basil, parsley, sage, and mint will all send out stalks of dainty, clustered flowers at some point during the Summer. But there is one particular herb that you should watch closely: Cilantro.

Coriander Seeds - Image from  http://www.vegetablegardener.com

Coriander Seeds - Image from http://www.vegetablegardener.com

Cilantro is a unique herb insofar as it gives us two harvests! Throughout the Spring you can enjoy cilantro leaves on tacos, pad thai, in salads, and more. But if you leave the bolted cilantro flowers in your garden long enough they will produce seeds which you may know by the name of coriander. 

Coriander seeds are mainstays in Middle Eastern and Indian spice mixes like dukkah and garam masala, important ingredients in classic dill pickles, and are delicious flavor pairings with meats and citrus.

To harvest coriander seeds, wait until they have turned brown. You can either clip the whole stalks off, hanging them upside down within a paper bag. They’ll fall off and collect in the bottom of the bag when they’re all the way dry. Or allow the seeds to dry thoroughly on the plant and collect directly. Dried coriander can be stored in an air-tight glass jar.