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Coriandrum Sativum - Cilantro / Coriander

Characteristics: The foliage (called "cilantro") looks like parsley but has an exceptional sweet-musky flavor. Produces pale pink flowers during the summer; these ripen into the sweetly aromatic coriander seed. The plant, in flower, can reach 3 feet high.

Growing Information: Plant during mild weather in moist, rich soil and full sun. Benefits from light shade in warmer weather. Space plants 4 inches apart. If you want to harvest the leaves, fertilize a week after planting with fish emulsion to provide extra nitrogen. Use a balanced organic fertilizer when you want to harvest for seed.

Propagation: Sow seed outdoors in early spring. If you want a regular supply of cilantro, sow every two weeks through the summer, as plants bolt fairly quickly.

Cultivars: For leaves, plant slower-bolting cultivars.

Possible Problems: Eliminate pests in harvested seeds by freezing the seeds for 48 hours once they are dried.

Harvesting and Using: Harvest leaves of young plants before they bolt to use in Mexican, Caribbean, and oriental dishes. Collect seed when it begins to turn brown in summer. Dry in a warm, airy place over a cloth or hang upside-down to dry inside a paper bag. Rub a handful of seeds between your hands to release the edible seed from the seed coat. Freeze seeds for 48 hours before storing in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place. Use ground seeds in baked goods, soups, casseroles, or potpourri.


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