Despite the staunch detractors, this authentic delicacy from the East has been imposed on our tables for several years. To treat us… and help us digest.
Cilantro looks a bit like flat parsley, growing in clumps 60 to 80 centimeters tall. The stems are erect, cylindrical and branched towards the top. The leaves are cut off as one approaches the tops of the stems. The hermaphroditic white flowers, in summer, are collected in umbels.
Coriander originates from western Asia, southern Europe, and the Near East, but its origin is still not fully understood. We know that it grows throughout the Mediterranean, we have found some archaeological remains of this wild plant that is widespread in southern Europe, and one of the oldest testimonies is found in an Egyptian papyrus from 1,500 years before our era that lists plants with common uses. medicinal. The etymology brings up the Greek root koris, or “bug”, to recall the smell given off by the plant and that some assimilate to that of the crushed insect, to disgust you with this aromatic that deserves much more than a pout of disgust. Others, just as disgusted, evoke a taste of soap. But hey, it seems to be a matter of genetics… A specific gene, OR6A2, controls our sensitivity to aldehydes, a chemical component present in coriander, but also in soap… The least we can say is that Arabic parsley, or Chinese , has a pronounced flavor and aroma: like it or not. But it is unequaled for seasoning white and red meat dishes, lamb, mutton, fish or vegetables.
coriander in the garden
It is a biennial plant most of the time, grown as an annual. In March-April (but also September in temperate climates), sow in rows 10 inches apart 1/2 inch deep. Germination time is about 15 days, but emergence can be irregular. When plants have 4 or 5 leaves, thin to leave only one plant every 20 to 25 centimeters in the row. In a large pot or planter, sow all year round at 18°C. After emergence, maintain a plant every 15 centimeters in all directions. As with parsley, planting is mandatory every year to never run out of fresh herb leaves.
If your needs are limited, and especially intended only for the kitchen, you can buy one or two plants already grown in the garden center in April. Coriander is very popular, you will find it easily. For an in-ground crop, plant a subject about every 20 centimeters.
As soon as you plant, but especially as the warmer months approach, keep the soil cool by watering regularly to prevent premature flowering (and seeds). Cover abundantly to limit water loss and irrigation frequency.
Coriander is cold, so we reserve the biennial crop in the south of the country. Its stems are thin and do not withstand the wind well, choose a sheltered place in the garden. Fall is the best time to lightly spread organic fertilizer in anticipation of second year growth.
the seed harvest
We remember every time that we must talk about “grains”, because we harvest the fruits that contain the real seeds from a botanical point of view. But this small precision does not detract from the taste and properties of the beans. In August-September, get up a little early, in the dew, to cut the umbels bearing very ripe fruit: they are usually dark brown for the most part, some remain lighter and uniform in color. By being early in the morning, you will prevent the heat of the day from causing the grains to fall out and therefore be lost. Dry them in the sun or in a ventilated place. Beat them on a large clean cloth and bag the grains in kraft paper. Some of them will be used as seeds for the following year (they retain their germination power for five or six years), but most will end up in the kitchen or as comfort medicine.
The future of coriander?
In the face of madness, a few varieties are offered, still very few and not always very widespread. Like “Delfino” (syn. “Confetti”) with leaves reminiscent of ferns, or “Lemon”, with a reputation for being more subtle. “Morocco” is recommended for its smaller and spicier seeds. As for “Microcarpum”, you will have to find it in Russia (not the best time…) or in Central Europe on future trips.
Its main virtues, in internal uses, are digestive, appetizers and carminative. It also calms diarrhea and its spasms, this is mainly due to the seeds. It is rich in vitamin K, but it should be consumed in excess to take it into account in case of anticoagulant treatment. In external use, its oil is a good muscle relaxant, its richness in linalool, with a good fresh smell, makes it bactericidal, antifungal, but also anxiolytic, calming and sedative.
Coriander in the kitchen
It is unthinkable to do without coriander in Mediterranean cuisine. What would the chorba, this delicious Algerian soup, the Tunisian mechouia salad or the many Moroccan tagines, for example, be without it? Like many green and broadleaf aromatics, it should be used finely chopped and added to hot dishes at the last minute, because its taste qualities deteriorate in heat. It is better to prefer the consumption of fresh or dried leaves, or ground grains, but avoid cold storage, since it does not withstand thawing well.
The other way to use and store coriander is to collect its seeds. They are used in a multitude of oriental spice mixtures, curries, garam masala, ras-el-hanout… present in couscous, tagines, curries, fillings, meatballs, keftas, etc. They are used sparingly in certain oriental pastries, cakes, gingerbread, or to flavor fruit poached in syrup.
Boost your infusion
Coriander infusion a bit boring? Not if you give him a little relief. Gently crush the equivalent of a tablespoon of kernels in a mortar, just to pop them. Place in a kettle with already boiled water, add a splash of turmeric and a grated lemon, orange, kaffir lime or any other citrus. Filter and drink hot. For more intensity, you can also add two or three sprigs of fresh coriander.
An infusion for the garden
Among the many preparations used in the garden, one recipe recommends steeping 150 grams of fresh coriander in 5 liters of boiling water, straining after 30 minutes to 1 hour, and allowing to cool before spraying as is, undiluted, to control aphids. and mites.
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