Origin: Europe, Asia Minor, and Russia
Few varieties are available; grow the variety available in your area.
Coriander is a fast-growing annual that grows to about 12 to 18 inches in height. It has tall slender stems with fine feathery leaves; the flowers are pale pink and grow in clusters. The seeds are used for flavoring candies, sauces, and soups. Coriander has a strong odor that many people don't like; it's one of the oldest known herbs. It was grown in ancient Egyptian gardens, and its seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs. Coriander is also mentioned as a food source in the Old Testament. The Spanish for coriander is cilantro, and the herb is sometimes known by this name.
Coriander grows almost anywhere that has a growing season of at least 100 days. It's not very hardy and will not survive hard frost, so plant it in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.
Coriander grows best in a fertile, well-drained soil. It prefers a sunny location but will survive in a slightly shaded area. When you're preparing the soil, dig in a complete, well-balanced fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. Plant coriander from seed in the early spring, two to three weeks after the average date of last frost. Plant the seeds a quarter inch deep in rows eight to 12 inches apart, and thin the plants to stand 12
inches apart when the seedlings are growing strongly.
Fertilizing and watering
Do not fertilize coriander at midseason. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Part 1.
Coriander should be kept evenly moist throughout the growing season, but when the seeds are nearing maturity too much rain can reduce the yield.
Coriander has no serious pest problems.
Coriander has no serious disease problems.
You can pick a few coriander leaves any time after the plants are about six inches tall — the fresh leaves are known as cilantro. Harvest the coriander seeds when they turn a light brown, two to three weeks after flowering. The seeds are small — only an eighth inch in diameter — and are split in half and dried after harvesting.
The dried seeds can be stored for months in an airtight container. You can freeze or dry the leaves. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.
Add a little coriander to guacamole or to Chinese soups.
The dried seeds are good in bread, cookies, potato salad, and fruit dishes. Coriander is used a lot in sausages.
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