Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Second Life for Cilantro

I love having cilantro in my garden. It's such a great flavor addition to so many dishes, but it doesn't last long in my garden. So, I started researching and found that all is not lost because there are many uses for the cilantro seeds. Dried cilantro seeds, or coriander, can be used for new plantings and in cooking. Once your cilantro has bolted follow the easy steps below to get more life out of your plant.

Drying Cilantro Seeds

The “seeds” are actually two cilantro seeds encased in a husk. The husk is hard, round and is light brown or grey in color. Before you plant them in the ground, you need to prepare the cilantro seeds to increase the chances that they will germinate. Gently crush the seed husk holding the two seeds together. Soak the cilantro seeds in water for 24 - 48 hours. Remove from the water and allow to dry.

Planting Cilantro Seeds

Once you have prepared the cilantro seeds, you need to plant the seeds. You can either start cilantro indoors or out doors. If you are starting the seeds indoors, you will be transplanting cilantro to the outdoors later on.

Put the seeds in the soil and then cover them with about a 1/4 inch layer of soil. Leave the cilantro growing until it is at least 2 inches tall. At this time, thin the cilantro to be about 3-4 inches apart. You want to be growing cilantro in crowded conditions because the leaves will shade the roots and help to keep the plant from bolting in hot weather.

If you are transplanting cilantro into your garden, dig holes 3-4 inches apart and place the plants in them. Water thoroughly after transplanting.

Cooking with Coriander

To prepare the coriander seeds for use, cut the stems and tie them together. Hang them in a cool, dry place to dry out. Make sure to place a container under them to capture falling seeds. When dry, place flower heads in a bag and shake to harvest seeds. Make sure seeds are completely dry before storing.

To use the seeds, crush them in a mortar and pestle or spin them in a coffee grinder or small food processor. Toasting the seeds in a dry pan brings out their best flavor.

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