Coriander seeds and leaves are great in the kitchen. But how do you store coriander properly? Read on to find out!
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, is one of the most important spice herbs in Asian cuisine – and little wonder. The plant is easy to grow at home and you can use its leaves and seeds throughout the kitchen. Here are a few tricks to preserve coriander for as long as possible, so that you can use it year-round.
Coriander leaves can be harvested continuously during growing season – through till September. In fact, if you only want to harvest the leaves, you will need to cut the herb regularly to delay flower formation. This is important because coriander flowers ruin the taste of the leaves.
Tip: To suppress flower formation further, sow your coriander late – between mid-April and mid-June.
If you would also like to harvest coriander’s spicy seeds, stop pruning the plant from July, so that it has enough energy for flower formation in the latter half of summer. It is also a good idea to sow your plants early in this instance – around the end of March. Read our article on growing coriander to find out more.
Harvesting coriander seeds
Depending on the weather and variety, you should be able to harvest aromatic coriander seeds 20 to 28 weeks after sowing. Accordingly, coriander’s harvest time is usually in the months of July and August.
To harvest the seeds, cut off the plant’s withering flower umbels close to the ground before the seeds are fully ripe. This will stop the seeds from falling off too easily. As soon as the seed heads take on a light brown colour, they are ready for harvest.
Harvesting coriander leaves
Whether home-grown or purchased, coriander leaves can be harvested once they have developed into strong adult plants. Harvest the leaves individually with a pair of sharp scissors throughout summer. You will need to prune the leaves regularly, otherwise the plant will flower and turn the leaves bitter (though edible).
Tip: Always use a sharp and clean cutting tool to protect the coriander plants from infection. They are particularly vulnerable to fungal spores and viruses.
Do remember to remove only as much as you need. If you cut off too much from coriander, the plant will suffer. Once coriander’s first bloom unfolds, harvest and store all remaining foliage.
How to store coriander
You can store freshly harvested coriander leaves for a few days by placing them in water in a jar in the refrigerator. If you cannot use your coriander within a few days, or have a surplus, there are ways to preserve the leaves for longer. You can also store coriander seeds, though this does require a little time.
Chop up your coriander leaves after harvest and put them in the freezer. In this way, you can take them out when you need them and in appropriate quantities. Frozen coriander keeps for about a year.
Alternatively, coriander greens dry well. To dry coriander leaves, hang your coriander shoots up for about two weeks. Dry coriander leaves keep for about six months, although they will have less aroma.
Make coriander oil
Finally, you can pickle coriander leaves in oil. Olive oil or another high-quality vegetable oil is suitable for this. To make coriander oil, place whole or chopped coriander leaves in a tightly sealed container. Then pour in enough oil to cover the coriander by about one to two centimetres. Since the oil will take on the herb’s aroma, it is also great in dishes.
Dry coriander seeds
Drying and storing coriander seeds is very straightforward. Once you have harvested your coriander cones, hang them on a string (or spread them out) to dry for about two weeks. Coriander seeds are ripe when they become dark brown and fall from the seed stalks easily. In an airtight container, the seeds will keep for up to three years and can be used to sow new coriander plants.
Tip: Use a low-nutrient herb soil and a slow-release, natural fertiliser to improve the aroma of your coriander. Our peat-free Plantura Organic Herb & Seeding Compost is perfect for sowing coriander seeds in the garden or on the balcony.
- Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
- For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
- Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition
Find out when and how to sow coriander in our article on propagating coriander.