How to Grow Cilantro and Harvest Coriander Seeds

Barbara Pleasant shares how to grow cilantro and harvest coriander seeds, includes tips on growing cilantro, choosing varieties of cilantro and when to harvest coriander seeds.


| August/September 2003



Illustration of the cilantro plant.

Illustration of the cilantro plant.


CULINARY HERBS FOR SHORT-SEASON GARDENERS

Learn how to grow cilantro and harvest coriander seeds in the garden.

Cilantro Recipes

Black Eyed Pea Salsa Recipe

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is really two herbs in one. The leaves, called cilantro or Chinese parsley, impart a musky, citrus-like (some even say “soapy”) flavor to Mexican, Chinese and Thai cooking. The tiny, round seeds, called coriander, taste of sage and lemon or orange peel, and season many traditional Indian dishes, especially curries.

Coriander roots also have culinary use. In Southeast Asia, they are dug, chopped and added to salty pickled condiments by many kitchen gardeners.

This easy-to-grow herb is rich in vitamins A and C, and also contains iron and calcium. In the garden, coriander flowers attract beneficial insects. At the flowering and fruit-set stage, the plants give off a slightly acrid smell, which is probably why this herb’s botanical name is derived from the Greek word for “bedbug,” which emits a similar color. In mature seeds, this odor vanishes.

Some people find the unique smell and taste of fresh cilantro unpleasant, but those of this opinion are definitely in the minority, because the herb’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. Cilantro enthusiasts eagerly eat the leaves raw, chopped into salsas or salads, and layered onto sandwiches.

alison
9/21/2017 9:55:19 AM

I think that Anna is looking for seeds in a plant that has not yet flowered. You have to wait for the flowers which will then produce seeds. I grew a few plants on my apartment balcony from coriander seed from my spice rack! (I'm sure that garden seeds would have produced better germination). I took leaves off them for eating all summer and then they flowered (at which point the leaves are no longer good for eating) and now have little seeds. I'm planning to wait for the seeds to dry and then replant them to see if I can get fresh windowsill cilantro in the winter. All a big fun experiment!


alisonlou.bel
9/21/2017 9:55:16 AM

Yes, by the time the plant has gone to seed, the leaves are not good for eating anymore. I think Anna might be looking at cilantro plants that have not yet gone to seed. First, you wait for flowers, then the flowers are pollinated, and then they go to seed. I planted some coriander seeds ~from my spice rack - I'm sure that seeds intended to plant would get a better result ~ and got a few nice little cilantro plants. I picked leaves off them to eat until they sent up flowers. Now they have developed seeds and I'm waiting for the seeds to dry. I'm planning to plant the seeds and see if I can get cilantro from my windowsill in the winter. This is all just a big experiment!


wendym
5/13/2016 3:55:48 PM

Anna. Hanging upside down was to get the seeds for use as coriander, not for the leaves to be used as cilantro. As for finding the seeds on the plant, they are obvious clusters of little green balls. You can't miss them.


anna
4/17/2016 8:22:11 AM

Still don't understand why I'd hang fresh cilantro leaves that are perfect for cooking upside down for 2 weeks. Pictures would have been nice explaining how new coriander seeds appear in a seemingly all-leaves plant, and where to find them. Thanks!






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