By Bonnie L. Grant
Chances are pretty good that if you have ever grown cilantro you ended up with coriander seeds at some point. Coriander is the fruit or seed from the cilantro plant, which is also sometimes called the coriander plant. Letting cilantro plants bolt is how to grow coriander. The bolted plants send out flowers and seed in high heat. Growing coriander is easy and rewards you with a seasoning that adds exotic interest to your dishes.
What are Coriander Seeds?
Coriander is a seasoning. It is a hard, round little seed that is a light brown color. Coriander seeds are ground and used in breads, Indian and Middle Eastern foods, Latin and Asian cuisine and is also a component of pickling spices. Cilantro seed answers the question, “What is Coriander?” The coriander plant goes to seed if it is planted when summer is in full swing. If you want cilantro for the citrusy leaves, you need to plant it when temperatures are still cool in spring.
How to Grow Coriander
Plant seeds in late spring to early summer. The plant needs rich, well-drained soil and a moderate amount of water. Sow in a full sun location for best production in loam or sandy soil. Space the seeds 8 to 10 inches apart in rows 15 inches apart. By midsummer the coriander flowers will appear as white lacy umbels. In a couple of weeks the plant will set seed. Neglect is actually the best method of how to grow coriander.
The formation of coriander seeds is dependent upon day length, sunlight and temperatures. Cilantro has a short growing season in hot climates and bolts when it is finished growing. Plants grown in mid summer will bolt in only four to six weeks due to the high temperatures. The varieties of cilantro seed that do not say they are slow to bolt will produce the quickest coriander crop. Slow to bolt means the plants will not form seed quickly and are more suitable for the cilantro leaves.
How to Harvest Coriander from Cilantro Plants
Coriander seeds need to be harvested before they drop off the plant. The pretty little flowers are attractive to honeybees and butterflies and turn into the seeds after pollination. The seeds are tiny and will be loose on the stem when ripe. Place a bag under the old flower stem and cut it off. Shake the stem into the bag and the ripe seeds will fall in. The seeds are best used as soon as possible but can be stored in a tightly sealed container.
How to Use Coriander Seed
Coriander needs to be ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle for use in cooking. You can also toast them to bring out the flavor or wrap them with other seasonings in cheese cloth as a bouquet garni. The ground seed is most often found in curry powders – Taklia, which is an Arab condiment, and garam masala. It is used in soups, stews, baked goods, desserts and as a rub on meats.