Friday, June 13, 2014

Seed Saving: Cilantro & Coriander

Photo Source: Wikipedia
Did you know that coriander is the seed for cilantro?

I didn't realize that until a few years ago when I came across a seed packet that read "Cilantro/Coriander". It was the first time I had seen coriander mentioned on the cilantro seed packet so I looked it up. Cilantro is the plant, the leaf. In the illustration to the left, it is the full, bright green leaf. Coriander is the seed.

The season here in Colorado can go from snow and freezing temperatures to really, really hot and dry within just a few days. (Perhaps that's why I have such a difficult time growing radishes). Because of these extreme fluctuations, our cilantro took a very long time to germinate and grow last year. I had only a week or so to harvest cilantro, and I was pinching off flowering stems from the start. Before I knew it, the plants were all flowering and setting seeds.

You can easily harvest the seed. Last year I waited until the plants themselves were dry and there was nothing left but seeds on dried stalks. The seeds will blow away if it is windy so be sure to protect them or bring the plants in to dry so the seeds don't disappear on you.

Once dry, I gathered up the seeds, stems and all, and stored them in a paper bag.

Yes, I realize I spelled "coriander" incorrectly here.

I tried to save other seeds in an airtight container but there was still some moisture left in the seeds. The moisture cause the whole container turned moldy. After that, I stuck with breathable paper bags.

I thought that would be the last I would see of those seeds until Spring. But I had a couple recipes that called for ground coriander. A good shake of the bag released a lot of the seeds from their stems. This allows you to be able to pull out only what you need. Just crush them in a mortar and pestle and use the ground coriander in your recipe.

After all danger of frost had passed, I pulled out my saved seeds to plant.

I suppose I could have planted a little earlier. I was already finding rogue cilantro plants coming up in the patio cracks...growing from seeds that blew away from me in the winds of the previous summer...

I don't plant my cilantro in rows. I just toss them into a container of soil and cover with a thin layer of moistened soil.

All I had left to do was keep the soil moist and wait.

I wasn't at all sure if the seeds I had kept in my basement all winter would even germinate so I was quite pleased when one week later I awoke to find green rising up through the dirt.

With a little luck, we'll have a nice cilantro harvest this summer!

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