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- Excellent flavour
- High yield
Coriander is an annual herb, grown for its leaves, which are sometimes known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, and its seeds. The leaves have a mildly bitter taste and the seeds, which are normally ground up, have a tangy lemony citrus flavour. Choose the common variety if you are looking to harvest seeds as well as leaves. The confetti variety, with delicate, feathery, fine-leaves has been bred specifically for leaf production.
Sow: your coriander seeds indoors from March or outdoors from late April/early May, around 1cm deep and 4 cm apart in fairly fertile and well drained soil. Be particularly careful not to disturb the roots of indoor sown seeds when transplanting. Plants being grown for their seeds should be sited in full sun, whereas those being grown for their leaves will benefit from a position which receives some shade. Coriander can also be grown successfully in a pot on the patio. Select a container at least 30cm deep, with good drainage, and scatter several seeds on the surface and cover lightly with compost. Finally, coriander can also be grown as an indoor plant on a south facing window sill. Some, however, regard its scent as unpleasant!
Aftercare: Thin outdoor sown seeds to about 20cm apart. Coriander is not a particularly demanding plant. It doesn’t normally need additional fertiliser, just ensure the soil is not allowed to dry out.
Harvest: Where plants are being grown for their leaves, you can begin regular harvesting from the time the plant has adequate foliage (from around 10cm in height). Pinch out flower shoots as soon as they develop to ensure the plant puts all its energy into leaf production. If you want the plant to produce seed, allow it to flower and collect the seed once the flowers have died off. The easiest way is to remove the whole flower stem and pop it upside down in a paper bag. Prop up or hang the bag in a cool dry place for 3-4 weeks then simply shake the dried flower stem to release any seeds which have not already fallen into the bag.
Whole seeds are used in pickling and to flavour drinks such as mulled wine. The aromatic ground seeds make a versatile spice which is used extensively in curry dishes. It is common to dry roast the seeds prior to grinding, to enhance the flavours. Chopped leaves (and stalks) are used raw in salsas and salads and added to curries, stir-fries and soups, normally just before serving.
Did you know? Coriander roots are also edible and are used in Asian and Thai cooking.
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