Friday, September 23, 2011

A Lifetime Supply of Coriander...

Weeks ago I posted that I had discovered a wonderful surprise...a huge tree of cilantro we never expected.  It sprung from a plant we had placed there 2 years ago!  Its nice to have the cilantro for fresh summer salads.  It pairs so perfectly with fresh tomatoes.  This season was hot and sadly it went to flower pretty quickly. 

Actually that's not such a bad thing...

Cilantro flowers are my most favorite thing...because once the flowers fall, the little green balls form...

Then they turn ligjht brown!  They are now called coriander.  Once the plants and seeds are quite dried, gently pull the tree right out of the ground and insert into a plastic bag, seeds end goes in first.

When you are sitting watching the clouds go by on a mild fall day, or inside watching a great movie on the can separate these dried seed balls off and store them for a loooooooong time.  We filled a small pepper grinder with coriander 2 years ago (the last time we grew the herb).  We are still working our way through it and its one of my most favorite herbs.  You grind the seeds much like you do with peppercorns. 

The result is a wonderfully lemony flavour!  I use it as a flavour enhancer to a lot of simple dishes like home made hummus, a salad topping, a pick me up for roasted potatoes.  Just about anything you could put lemon juice on...try coriander instead.  Don't get me wrong, I love lemon juice in a dish...but sometimes I like the texture the cracked coriander seeds bring to a meal too.  (If you're interested...its like a calorie-free way to boost the flavour of your dish, but without the added sweetness, moisture content or acidity)

Wikipedia says of coriander, "Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. A study found both the leaves and seed to contain antioxidants, but the leaves were found to have a stronger effect."  It goes to to state that cilantro leaves contains Vitamin A and C, small amounts of protein and fiber.   Both the spice and the herb have been used widely all over the world throughout history.  Traces of the plant itself were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

PS.  Coriander also travels well.  It survived better than the lemon I tried to bring home from Ottawa in my suitcase! 


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