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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

 
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Did you know that both cilantro and coriander come from the Coriandrum sativum plant. Cilantro is the name for the plant's leaves and stem, while coriander is the name for its dried seeds. Internationally, the leaves and stems are called coriander, while its dried seeds are called coriander seeds!
coriander-seeds.jpg
[Thumbnail for coriander-seeds.jpg]
cilantro-seedlings.jpg
[Thumbnail for cilantro-seedlings.jpg]
 
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When I plant coriander, the cilantro that grows has very sparse foliage and a bumper-crop of seeds. That's nice and all, but I really want cilantro leaf for my salsa. Anyone know what I should do differently?
 
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Cilantro is a tad difficult here in Colorado because we go from frost season to summer quickly. Your area may be similar. Cilantro prefers a long cool season such as the Pacific northwest. I've had the best luck with leaf production with letting it go to seed and then harvesting volunteers the following year.
 
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I sometimes let coriander flower in the greenhouse because they attract lots of hover flies (whose larvae live on aphids). Two years ago I did not clean up the greenhouse and in the following early spring I had a jungle of cilantro leaves to harvest. I even sold some to a friend (and froze the rest).
This only happens when the spring is cool but not too cold and when humidity is high enough. This year we also went from frost to (almost) hot and dry and the little plants will probably not produce many leaves before they start to flower.
Next year I might try a covered bed or the greenhouse again (if I remember to water it abundantly).
 
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I'm one of those poor unfortunate souls that can't taste or smell whatever compound makes cilantro delicious to the rest of you. It smells and tastes like stink bugs, only 100xs worse. One of my kids planted some in their garden last year and it grew so ginormous and bushy that it overflowed into the pathway and I had to smell it everytime I walked by. 🤢 But the pollinators LOVE it so I left it to bloom. (Hmmm, sounds like an entry for "You know you're a permie when...")

A few weeks ago my husband picked up a jar of coriander for a cooking activity some of the teens were doing at church and I smelled it out of curiosity. Interestingly, it did NOT smell like crushed up stink bugs. In fact it smelled kind of pleasant.

I've always avoided coriander because cilantro is so horrible to me. But now I'm curious? Does coriander have a distinctly different taste and smell to everyone else?
 
Christopher Weeks
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Jenny Wright wrote:Does coriander have a distinctly different taste and smell to everyone else?



I just tasted both side-by-side. There are elements in each not present in the other. But there are also obviously overlapping flavor elements too. I get the sweaty/musky/soapy odor from both, for instance, but for me it's weak and pleasant. It's a tough comparison because the lemony, wet, fresh-greens sensation of the cilantro is so front and center that it's hard to "listen" for the subtle spice elements of the coriander.
 
Jenny Wright
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Christopher Weeks wrote: I get the sweaty/musky/soapy odor from both, for instance, but for me it's weak and pleasant. It's a tough comparison because the lemony, wet, fresh-greens sensation of the cilantro is so front and center that it's hard to "listen" for the subtle spice elements of the coriander.


Wow, thank you for that description. I REALLY wish I could taste cilantro! Sounds so good!
 
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As I understand it in hot weather they need to be planted in succession every week to two weeks and then harvest young.  The seeds are large and easy to gather so if you let the most successful plants go to seed you can start developing your own garden variety.  

I  like that they reliably show up every winter all over my yard after the first time I let them seed. I don't like it enough to work hard for. I just appreciate it during its season in the lawn.
 
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So, I can just sow coriander seeds that I get from the grocery store?
 
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Folks who grow coriander seed: are you soaking, crushing the seed coat, or anything else to stratify or scarify the seed?

There is conflicting advice online, and I have not had success with my initial direct sowing and I am getting ready to try again.
 
Jenny Wright
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Mark William wrote:Folks who grow coriander seed: are you soaking, crushing the seed coat, or anything else to stratify or scarify the seed?

There is conflicting advice online, and I have not had success with my initial direct sowing and I am getting ready to try again.


My kids grew it last year as part of a science kit. All they did was drop the seeds on top of expanded peat pellets and put them in enclosed clear plastic containers. Then they put their containers under one of my grow lights in a warm room. After they sprouted and grew a couple of inches, they were planted out without any hardening off. The plants grew obnoxiously well.

So from that one experience, no need for stratifying or soaking, but they were kept very moist in a warm and bright location until they germinated. I can't remember how long it to for them to germinate. Maybe a week?
 
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There is also another herb, "culantro", aka as  long leaf cilantro, (Eryngium Foetidum) that is used in the Caribbean and in Southeast Asia  for cooking . The flavor is very similar. Perhaps it might be an alternative to those who are too sensitive to the the flavors of cilantro.

I've tried growing it with no success (not giving up), however in the tropics it grows like a weed in moist environments. I am able to purchase the leaves (rootless) in asian supermarkets.

 
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William Bronson wrote:So, I can just sow coriander seeds that I get from the grocery store?


I do, William, although lately i'm actually buying seed since i tend to have bolting problems. But i'm in 9b, YMMV.

As for crushing- I have been doing that lately and noticing faster germination. From my experimentation in the many years I grew cilantro without crushing, I find it takes longer to germinate- like maybe weeks longer. I also find it is very sensitive to... something, not sure, but it doesn't always sprout when I expect it to. Maybe waiting for appropriate weather. I grow it year round except for high summer, when neither love nor money will keep it alive.
Culantro, on the other hand, I've tried and we in 9b just aren't hot enough to keep it alive (we get a few frosts). Would love to grow it, but no go.
 
Christopher Weeks
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Mark William wrote:Folks who grow coriander seed: are you soaking, crushing the seed coat, or anything else to stratify or scarify the seed?



No, nothing. stick it in soil, it grows.
 
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