Cilantro is one of my favorite flavors of the cool late spring and fall. Already we’ve added the leaves to Mexican salsa and Pad Thai recipes. But with the current intense heat of summer, cilantro leaves fade. Cilantro bolts and produces a new spice- coriander seed! In the United States most people grow this delicious, multi-purpose plant for its leaves, but its delicious coriander seeds are entirely worth harvesting and taste nothing like cilantro leaves. Don’t overlook this spice or let it go to waste!
The traditional method to harvest coriander seeds includes cutting the stems when about half of the seeds have changed from green to grayish-tan. Some like to harvest them at the green stage, because their flavor is sharper and more pronounced, and because the only place you can find green coriander seed is in a garden.
Gather the stems together with a rubber band and hang the bunch upside-down in a warm, dry place for about two weeks. I placed them inside our greenhouse on a hanging rack, but if I had room in my kitchen, I would have enjoyed smelling them there. I purchased the herb and flower drying rack from Uncommon Goods, however, it looks like they no longer sell this. Consider a similar drying rack from Amazon.
After about two weeks, place a paper bag beneath the bunch and gently shake seeds loose from the stems. Roast the separated seeds in a warm, dry pan over medium heat until you can smell their nutty aroma- about 3-5 minutes.
Add the dried seeds directly into a storage container to easily add spice to lentils, rice, or vegetables. (I also love giving filled grinders to those who appreciate Thai and Meditaranian food!) I often add an equal amount of coriander to recipes that call for cumin. Left whole and coated with sugar (rather than roasted), the seeds make a dessert-type treat called coriander comfit. Here is a recipe we enjoyed, substiuting with South Dakota walleye, bass and perch.
Coriander’s flavor is truly unique—citrusy and slightly nutty, and it pairs very well with beans, lentils, rice, and roasted or grilled vegetables. You won’t believe the difference in taste between freshly ground coriander seed and the pre-ground stuff usually available at the supermarket. Let us know about favorite recipes you use with Coriander in the comments section!