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Monday, June 30, 2008

Harvesting Cilantro Seeds

I just harvested coriander from my cilantro plant. I was pleasantly surprised by the abundant supply of coriander my small cilantro plant produced. "Cilantro" is an annual herb. The tender aromatic leaves are often used in the last stages of Mexican and Asian cooking. "Coriander" is the cilantro seed and it is also used in cooking. For example, I use ground coriander to flavor my meats and stews. I plan on using the bulk of my cilantro seeds for culinary purposes, but I will save a few to grow some more cilantro.

How to Harvest Coriander:
Harvesting coriander is simple and effortless. Your cilantro plant will eventually produce tiny white flowers with lavender accents (See Figure B below).

Once these flowers are pollinated, they will produce seeds (i.e., coriander) in its place (See Figure C below). Small flowers normally do not need help pollinating. However, if you are growing cilantro indoors, you will want to gently shake the cilantro plant or place it in a windy area to assist pollination. This will help the plant produce higher yields of coriander.

It took two to three weeks for my cilantro seeds to fully mature. You will want to pick the cilantro seeds when they are ripe. Cilantro seeds are ripe when the seeds are just starting to turn brown (See Figure C). Snip off the stems of plant, and place it in a paper bag. Allow the seeds to dry in a cool, dark place. After the seeds have dried out, collect the seeds and store them in a glass jar or other airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Figure A
Young Cilantro Plant

Figure B
Blooming Cilantro Flowers

Figure C
The round balls are cilantro seeds a.k.a. coriander


CS said...

Thanks for this information!
I plan to use the coriander for cooking, but I'd also be interested in planting the seeds for a new plant. Have you ever done this? I'd appreciate a tip.
Thanks, CS

Lina said...

Hi cs! I'm sorry for the delayed response. I have been traveling a lot this summer.
Once the seeds have dried, plant them about 1/4" deep in potting soil. I plant a bunch of seeds in a standard 6" pot, water it thoroughly, and cover it with a plastic ziplock bag and a bamboo stick to create a mini-greenhouse. The seeds should sprout in about 9 days, but sometimes up to two weeks. I hope this helps! Let me know how it turns out. Happy Gardening!

Gingerweeds said...

This post was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

Lina said...

Great! I'm glad I can be of help! I love sharing and connecting with other gardeners. Keep in touch Gingerweeds, and happy gardening! :)

Martha said...

Thanks for this information! I have a lot of cilantro outside and I was wondering how to harvest the seeds. Your site is great.

Lina said...

Thank you Martha! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks very helpful. Will the original plant return or do I start by scratch?

Lina said...

Unfortunately, cilantro is an annual so you would have to plant new seeds or allow the plant to re-seed itself. I like to collect the seeds and replant them; however, if I did nothing the seeds would eventually drop to the ground and grow into new cilantro plants.

Robin E. said...

Thanks for posting this! I went away for a week and all of my cilantro bolted! So frustrating! So, the bright spot was that I could wait a little while and collect the seeds for next year! I've learned to plant my cilantro in stages, so I can have a fresh crop throughout the summer.
I am going to be watching my plants so I can harvest the coriander!!

Lina said...

Hi Robin, I am sorry to hear that your cilantro bolted early! It is common in this summer heat, but I makes it a little less frustrating to know you will have a bunch of new seeds. You'll probably end up with more seeds than you'll know what to do with. :) I think it is great that you are planting your herbs in stages so that you will always have fresh cilantro on hand! :)

Anonymous said...

Will I be able to panty my seeds now or do I have to wait until a certain time of year? I just started getting into growing my own plants so this is all very new to me. My cilantro plant didn't last very long so i'm glad I can at least keep the seeds and maybe plant a few at once.

Lina said...

You should be able to plant your seeds right away. Just work in some compost into the soil before planting the seeds.

You might even be able to grow cilantro all year round outdoors if you live in an area with mild winters. I live in a part of California that has mild winters, and I have been growing cilantro all year round.