Growing coriander

Growing coriander is a cinch; it comes up like a weed. The first spring you'll plant seed, or young plants from the nursery to give you a head start. In autumn it produces a head of beautiful white flowers and next season tiny sprigs shoot up by the dozen.

It looks very similar to flat leafed parsley, but the taste is quite different. Some folk dislike it, and that's okay.


Growing coriander flowers from Bernie's garden

Coming originally from the Mediterranean area, it's today grown all over the planet; probably one of the world's favourite herbs. You can either enjoy coriander green in a salad or grind the dried seeds for meat dishes and curries and stews.

Fresh from the garden, I make a coriander green almost every day; well you could just as easily call it a lettuce, rocket, parsley or mint salad. Tabbouleh is equally a favourite. In order to get my ten coloured foods every day I add as many as possible. Each has its subtle flavours, all with different phytochemical foods benefits.

Your greens are particular rich in vitamin B6 which, along with B12, prevents the build up of toxic homocysteine; it also helps reduce premenstrual tension.


Growing Coriander

Cilantro or green coriander from Bernie's garden

Growing coriander is just the easiest of all the herbs to plant and enjoy; grow it in full sun.

Can you see above the profusion of seedlings coming up at the foot of the mother plant?




You'll have to weed them very carefully initially. There will be a lot of competition coming up with your tiny coriander plants.

The phytochemicals in many herbs, including coriander, have a preservative effect; it's the antioxidant in them. More important these are the foods that mop up the free radicals that cause cancer.

One of the these is a bioflavonoid called kaempferol; it is found in many greens and has potent anti cancer properties; scientists are looking at turning it into a drug for treatment.

At great cost no doubt; alternatively we could just enjoy our greens daily.

Thus cilantro itself goes off quite quickly; I'm reluctant to buy it from the greengrocer. And why should one when it grows like a weed in your own garden? One can chop it up and freeze in an airtight container for a few months; that's a good idea in autumn when for a short season it's in profusion.

We've dug out a patch of lawn, and instead grow herbs and spices; they are really so pretty and less grass to mow also.

My spring herb patch has jalapenos, coriander, chives, parsley and sweet basil; right now they are still small but already there are snippets in our lettuce side dishes. With a huge scoop of homemade hummus, every salad is a delight; unfortunately I'm going to have to wait for the peppers and chilies. I love the kick they give to any meal and, after citrus, they are the richest source of vitamin C.

Here's an update on our coriander page; it's late summer and I was a bit depressed as the lovely cilantro was over; so I sprinkled some seed from last year on the early, roughened the earth and surrounded it with sticks to keep the hens out. Hey presto, there are about fifty seedlings about an inch high. Within a week we'll be enjoying sprigs in our salad again.


Cilantro

Obviously it has different names; often it's called Chinese parsley, but in South Africa we call it dhania. That's because of the large number of Indians living here. In Spanish it's called cilantro; would a rose smell any different if you gave it another name?




Actually it loses its scent with cooking, so I tend to add it as a raw garnish, or just before the dish comes off the heat.

Talking of heat, have you heard of these counter top induction stoves? They are quicker than gas and use half the electricity of a conventional spiral plate.

A garnish of coriander leaves on our Mexican avocado soup is a delight; spice up your cooking with these easy to grow herbs.


Coriander benefits

Coriander benefits, for me at least, in the main are the character that it brings to a perhaps rather dull green salad.

But then it's also one more coloured food that you chalk up on your way to our declared goal of ten for the day. More fibre will keep your colon happy, and one day I'll do some homework on the phytochemicals that make it unique. Frankly anything related to parsley must be good.


Green coriander or cilantro from Preston's garden

Collecting coriander seed

Collecting coriander seed isn't difficult; just gather up the fronds once they've dried off, but before the seed has started falling.

Coriander fronds thick with seed Bernard Preston

Run your hands down the fronds into a large bucket and just look, you have enough seed for the whole year. Growing coriander is so easy and rewarding.

Dirty coriander seed from Bernard Preston

The seed above is quite dirty with dust and small bits of the plant; this honey filter gets rid of most of the junk. Now for that chicken curry!

Growing coriander and cleaning it


Phytochemical Foods

Phytochemical foods have the colours that prevent cancer; enjoy your butternut and beetroot, kale and spinach, tomatoes and radish, and of course a good reason for growing coriander.




In the spring we do cheat a little by buying a few seedlings; basically you are buying time, unless you have a hothouse and grow your own seedlings in late winter.

This little plant, one of six that we bought, is only two weeks in the ground and already we are enjoying a few sprigs of coriander benefits in our salads.

Our avocados are in season; later this morning I'm going to make our famous Mexican avocado soup that is garnished with cilantro, call it what you like. It's particularly good if you're banting, because it's very high in fat, but has zero carbs; the best way to lose weight.

Plants capture the light, turning it into the incredibly varied phytochemical foods that our bodies desperately crave.


Perfect banting breakfast

The perfect banting breakfast is hard to come by; it needs to be zero in carbohydrate, yet high in protein and fat; yet without any processed meat like bacon. Plenty of organic greens is part of the deal; growing coriander is dead easy because it seeds itself and from the shop goes awfully slimy within hours. 

With more than double the people on our planet dying from the ravages of obesity, compared with starvation, your coriander sprinkled at the last moment on eggs Florentine makes the perfect Banting breakfast if you're concerned about your weight.


Since we're not obese, we enjoy it on a half slice of our low GI bread toast, butter is back, of course.

You can't see it, but this pan (it has a lid) is cooking on the induction stove; they are delight to cook with. Instant heat. Growing coriander is so easy, and will add flavour and cancer protection from the kaempferol to any dish.


Eggs Florentine

Eggs Florentine makes the most wonderful and versatile breakfast; add chilli and garlic and, if you have only a mild weight problem, read BMI closer to 25 than 30, then you can enjoy it on half a slice of toast; we always used mixed greens so growing coriander is a huge plus.


It's takes literally only a few minutes to mix the ingredients for our heavenly low GI bread dough; then you wait five hours, tantalised by the most incredible aroma if you add herbs like coriander.

Add extra protein and fat to lower the GI of our bread. I wonder what a handful of our growing coriander leaves would taste like in the loaf?


Some folk are concerned about salmonella infection from eggs; it's a serious cause of food poisoning. Researchers have found that coriander contains an antibacterial compound called dodecenal which is twice as potent as the most commonly used drug gentamicin for fighting the bug.

In Europe there's an explosion of diabetes occurring in all ages; researchers have found that given to diabetic mice, coriander lowers blood sugar and stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin.



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