Thursday, August 20, 2015

Saving Coriander Seeds

Herbs seem to require constant attention in the garden. There's nothing more sensitive to changes in temperature, water, or fertilizer, and many herbs bolt and set their seed really early if you don't keep an eye on them. And between the fact that it's rained about every 36 hours this summer and the fact that I had a little physical hiatus during which not much gardening was getting done, I'm afraid I've neglected my herbs.

Cilantro is one of the worse. You either love this herb in Latin cooking, or you think it tastes like soap. (That's genetic, by the way; either you do or don't have the gene that makes cilantro taste funky to you.) I love it, but it sets flowers and goes to seed pretty much overnight.

Luckily, going to seed is not that much of a problem, because cilantro seed is the spice we call coriander.  It's easy to save, and you'll want to save a lot, because it is a wonderful meat spice.

When your cilantro blooms, it will set little green seed pods. Then, the stems and seeds will start to dry until you have what you see in the picture. Each of these little seeds is covered by a paper-thin husk. Don't worry about that, because it's no big deal if you eat the husk.

To harvest, just go out to your plant with a bowl and shake or pull off the seeds.  Make sure to let a few fall in your herb bed if you'd like the cilantro to reseed itself for next year.

I let the seeds continue to dry in their bowl for a few days just to be sure, then bottle them up and put them in the spice rack whole. When the time comes to use the coriander, I grind it in a mortar and pestle.  At that time, any tiny bits of stem will kind of float to the top, and you can brush them out before use if you like.

I love cracked coriander in pork sausage, and I often use just coriander and sage when I make my sausage. So much better than the store bought!

The Analysis

 Fast: Harvesting coriander seeds takes basically no time and is fun, too.

Cheap:  Since this herb/spice reseeds itself, it's fairly easy to ensure that you have a steady crop each year for free.

Good:  Coriander is a natural with pork, and the freshly ground seed has a brilliant flavor.
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