Coriander from the Cilantro Plant

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The seed and the leaves have completely different tastes and recipe uses.

Coriander is of the family Apiaceae and the genus and specie Coriandrum sativum.

It is the seed from the cilantro plant. Leaves of the erect growing annual are called cilantro, which means coriander in Spanish. With divisions extending less than halfway to the middle of the base the leaves become more finely divided further up the stem. On this stem are white and mauve flowers in summer followed by ribbed green turning to brown fruits. This fruit when dried becomes the seeds.

The seed and the leaves have completely different tastes and recipe uses. Cilantro is often used in Mexican dishes and coriander in Indian dishes. The flavor also blends well with other Indian spices. Growing cilantro has a full-circle growing cycle in that you can continually plant the seeds indoors and enjoy both the leaves and the seeds. Planting the seeds close together and keeping the soil warm gets the best results.

Coriander is a condiment used in curry powders, pickle spices, seasonings, pastries, tobacco products, alcoholic beverages like gin and as flavoring in liqueurs. The essential oils can be massaged externally to treat rheumatic pain. Leaves can be eaten to sooth digestion. It is also used to make lotion, for light rings, diffusers, potpourri and air fresheners. Coriander seeds can be ground into a paste to be used on skin or in the mouth for relief of bad breath. An infusion of 2 tsp dried seeds in one cup of water can be given once a day for the relief of digestion problems

Petroselinic acid, the main component in coriander oil is used for flavoring cocoa, chocolate and is used as a fragrance component in soaps, toiletries and perfumes.

There is not a lot known about coriander ’s history though it is thought to be native to the Mediterranean and parts of southwestern Europe. Seeds were placed in Egyptian tombs and it was believed that the Egyptians and Greeks believed coriander had aphrodisiacal properties. A Greek physician and author of several books on the medicinal quality of herbs, Dioscorides, believed that ingesting coriander heightened a man’s sexual potency. Coriander was one of the first herbs used by American colonists and was found in Massachusetts in the early 1600’s. The Chinese have been using the herb for hundred of years and they felt it possessed aphrodisiac and medicinal qualities as well.


Sharla Smith
Posted on Aug 1, 2010
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Posted on Aug 1, 2010