This spicy flavoured herb Coriander - also known in some parts as Cilantro - was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen! It was used to mummify. The Romans and the Greeks were not always in agreement about the properties of this herb as one thought this herb was hot and the other thought it was cold. In Tudor times coriander seeds were coated in sugar and became a popular sweet until the start of this century.
Coriander is an annual herb growing to 2ft (60cm) tall with its bright green pungent finely divided leaves, the lower leaves are wider than that of the feathery upper ones that are used in cooking. In spite of the fact that Coriander is an annual, it is fully hardy outdoors. As such it could well self seed itself for the following year. Umbel shaped flowers are followed by ridged, spherical light-brown fruits (seeds).
It is widely found and grown in many parts of the world - including most of Europe and many parts of Asia. It use in flavouring - or spicing curries is legendary.
Otherwise, propagate Coriander by seed sown in the spring, in a sunny position. Sow seeds directly into soil about 9 inches apart in situ, in a well-drained fertile soil and water well in the initial stages - as with all members of the Apiacea (carrot) family.
Whilst grown in hot parts of the world, it is fully hardy in the UK and all of Europe.
It is generally edible from leaf tip to fleshy root, but it is the leaves which are used in soups and other dishes, together with the seeds which are essential to South east Asia cooking delights.
Coriander seeds and leaves are used for their digestive properties. In Indian the seeds were taken as smallpox prevention. Coriander is also used to help lower blood cholesterol levels. Antibacterial and fungicidal properties are found in the essential oils. The seeds can be chewed to help combat bad breath. Coriander is also used to stimulate the appetite.
The seeds of Coriander are considered as good antioxidants - combatting free radicals - though the seeds are more effective for this use. Together with this, the seeds of Coriander have been tested for type 2 diabetes with success and also for lowering cholesterol levels.
The leaves have been used for various stomach problems - including being used as an 'antibiotic' against spps of salmonella.
Culinary usages of coriander can be traced way back to the Egyptians, they used coriander leaves in soups and drinks, and they even placed the seeds in their tombs to take with them in the after life. Curries, pickles and chutneys are just some of uses that the seeds are used for. Coriander leaves are added to salads and breads with the seeds sprinkled on top. Despite its hot properties, surprisingly coriander is also used in desserts; try adding to gingerbread and cakes, as when the seeds are crushed they add a lemon flavour. Some beers and liqueurs also contain coriander. Garam masala, is a mixture of spices used in Indian curries, coriander is the main ingredient. The root of this herb is commonly used in Asian cuisine.
Some forms of German Sausage utilise the seed. They bare also used as a tasty additive to some forms of bread.
The only problem we have encountered with Coriander, is that it sometimes suffers from fungal wilt - Verticillium. It is virtually un-curable. Dig up the suffering plants and destroy. Vertici8llium can stay in the soil for many years.
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