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You use its leaves and its seeds.

You use its leaves and its seeds

Why grow the herb coriander (also called Chinese parsley or cilantro) when you can buy a box of coriander seeds for $1 and leaves of cilantro at many markets for about 50 cents a bunch? There are several good reasons.

If you get to know the flavor of the seeds and learn about their many culinary uses, you'll want to use them more freely. And if you enjoy the flavor of cilantro leaves, growing your own ensures a fresh, steady supply.

Plants are easy to grow, quick to come to harvest, and will self-sow indefinitely in an out-of-the-way corner of your garden.

Coriander seed, whole or ground, is an essential ingredient in curry seasoning and is often used in Mexican and Oriental soups, stews, and casseroles. It lends complexity to dishes of beans, lentils, and peas and can be ground with sausage meat to increase flavor and aroma.

Ground coriander also combines well with sweets; a sprinkling will enhance the flavor of baked apples or applesauce, or confer a surprising fragrance to cookies and cakes. After dessert, try crushing a few seeds and adding them to espresso.

Cilantro leaves have a flavor notably different from the seeds. The taste is hard to describe: orange peel mixed with parsley comes close.

Grow coriander in sun and reasonably well-drained soil. Since seeds won't sprout when soil temperatures are high, plant before hot weather approaches. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart, water thoroughly, and look for seedlings in about two weeks. Pinkish white flowers will appear in about two months, and seeds will ripen in another three weeks.

When two pairs of true leaves have formed, thin plants to 3 inches. Pinch off roots of thinnings and use the tops as cilantro. Harvest leaves from remaining plants' as needed.

To keep leaves coming, sow a new batch of seeds every two to three weeks and uproot plants when they reach 4 to 6 inches tall (six to eight weeks); this approach works well in hot climates. Or harvest just a few tip leaves and side stems when plants reach 4 to 6 inches; this discourages seed set and prolongs the plant's season. When plants turn dry and brown, rub seeds off into a bowl.

For later crops, allow a few seeds to fall around the parent plants. In mild coastal climates, you may be able to have plants all year. Plants will die out during cold winters or extremely hot summers.

Photo: As green plants of coriander (left) turn brown seeds ripen; use fresh leaves as cilantro. To harvest seeds, rub clusters between fingers

Photo: Sow seed in rows the first time around so you will recognize seedlings; plants later set seed on their own
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:coriander seed
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1984
Words:464
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