We have always enjoyed using cilantro and coriander (the seed of cilantro) in our cooking. Both have been noted for medicinal uses. For instance the plant is known for antibiotic properties which delay or prevent the spoilage of food. This may explain why some recipes for preserved food like South African biltong call for coriander.
Back in late July our cilantro started going to seed. This is notable when the little green balls appear. Don’t cut it at this point unless you are looking at a lot of rain. Let the seeds dry and turn brown on the plant. After the plant has dried to your liking or you must cut because of to much rain, hang the plants indoors for another couple weeks or until you are ready to take the next step. I don’t believe there is to much of a hurry.
When we are ready to remove the seeds we use a process called threshing. Put the cilantro plant in a bag, plastic or paper though paper might work better. The plastic tends to rip easily. Then beat that sucker like it owes you money! Just take care not to break your bag of course.
All the seeds fall to the bottom of the bag. So when your done just throw the remaining plant in the compost and dump your coriander into a bowl. Almost done.
Now most likely you have a bowl full of coriander with a bunch of stems. That’s okay this is how you clean it.
There are a couple of different ways. You will just have to experiment around with it. The first way is winnowing. This is an ancient technique that uses wind to blow out stems, leaves, debris, and even weevils and should be done with many seeds including legumes.
You don’t want to winnow in the rain and you need a steady breeze, so while I have a working fan I will use it. If you have never winnowed before start small with your fan on low or you may lose all your seeds. The next method I use may be even more simple.
Gently shake the bowl from side to side as if you were sifting for gold. The heavy coriander will sink to the bottom and the lighter stems will rise to the top. While you are shaking blow ever so slightly into the bowl. The stems and debris will blow right out leaving the remaining coriander.
That’s about it! To store your coriander for long periods of time place it in an air tight container like a canning jar and keep out of light. Remember they are seeds, so treat it as such and you should have good results. We separate some to keep in the seed bank and keep the others in reused seasoning containers.
The coriander may keep longer if left whole but if you are ready to grind it up in a mortar and pestle works well. If you are grinding up a lot to have on hand or don’t have a mortar and pestle you can use a grain mill. I believe, that much like wheat berries the coriander will most likely keep longer if left whole.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.