Herb of the Month – Cilantro/Coriander
Cilantro is an easy to grow annual that will gently reseed itself in your garden. Its basal leaves grow about 6-8 inches tall, while its flower umbels can reach 2 feet high or more. Its leaves are know as cilantro, they are flat and full around the base, but turn feathery as you go up the stem. The flowers draw in and delight the bees, and the seeds (technically the fruit) of this wondrous herb are called coriander. To dry the seeds, simply let them mature on the flower stalk. When the stalk has turned brown and the leaves have died back, you can snip it off at the base and turn it flower/seed head side down into a brown paper bag and let it rest there until you need it.
Cilantro is a wonderfully aromatic herb used in many Mexican and Asian foods. It is a beautiful garnish on guacamole and enchiladas, and no traditional salsa is truly complete with out it.
When you crack open fresh dried coriander seeds with your mortar and pestle, they impart this amazing, light, lemony fragrance. The coriander seed is also often used in the garam masala of Indian style curry dishes.
Medicinally, coriander seeds “aid in digestion, reduce gas, and improve the appetite… the Chinese still employ coriander tea to counter dysentery and measles. East Indians make the seeds into an eyewash to prevent blindness in smallpox patients. The oil is an antiseptic and was suggested by Dioscorides to treat urinary tract restrictions and inflammation.” Source of quote: Herbs An Illustrated Encycopedia by Kathi Keville