Herb of the Year


Coriandrum sativum (Apiaceae family). Known by several names – cilantro – coriander – Chinese parsley – dhania – the leaves of this herb are used in Asian, North African, and Mexican cooking. They resemble flat-leaf parsley and fresh bunches of cilantro are often found in supermarkets next to bunches of parsley. The leaves have a strong flavor of sage and lemon peel. Folks are divided about the flavor of Cilantro, with those who dislike the taste saying that it tastes like soap. However, many more love the taste and it is a staple in many dishes.

The seeds are known as coriander. The leaves and seeds have distinctly different flavors. The citrus-tasting seeds are popular in chili sauce, cheese, and egg dishes. Coriander seeds have long been used to give the wonderful flavor in old-fashioned jawbreakers. Heating or roasting the seeds in a dry pan helps to release their lemony aroma. Coriander is used in pickling spices, frankfurters, the spice mixture garam masala, and is often combined with cumin in Indian curries.

The plant is easily grown from seed, but has a tendency to bolt when warmer weather approaches. Lightly pinching back the plant will delay bolting, but eventually you can just let it go to seed and harvest the Coriander seeds. Propagate it from seed planted in full sun to part shade, where the crop is to grow – its deep roots do not like to be disturbed. New varieties are being developed which are slower to bolt. Height: 1 to 3 feet.