Coriander

Coriander

CorianderCoriander, or otherwise known as cilantro in many parts of the world, is an aromatic plant. It is used in many different cuisines and it has an unique flavor. Coriander is native to the Mediterranean, but can also be found in Western Asia. This article will provide some background information on coriander, as well as explain the different health benefits. The article will also give some tips on how to use and store coriander.

Description

Coriander is a very versatile spice and it can be used in a large variety of different dishes. Coriander can be considered to be a spice as well as a herb. This is due to the fact that both its seeds and its leaves can be used for cooking. Coriander belongs to the plant family which is called Umbelliferae, and its scientific name is Coriandrum sativum. Flat parsley also belong to this same family. This is not surprising since coriander and plat parsley look almost identical. While most people refer to the plant as coriander, it can also be referred to as cilantro. People usually use cilantro if they are referring to the fresh coriander, thus the leaves of the plant. Coriander is used when referring to the seeds. Coriander plants contain two seeds. These seeds are dried and are used for cooking as well. When these seeds are ripe, the seeds adopt a yellow/brown color. The coriander seeds have a very distinct flavor. Some people describe the taste to be similar to a combination of sage and citrus peel. Most supermarkets sell coriander seeds, and they can usually be bought in powder form or you can buy them as whole seeds. The name of the plant originally derives from the Greek term “koris”. “Koris” means bug in Greek. While there are speculations why the term is derived from the Greek word, it is said that coriander has an offensive smell when it is unripe. Thus, this buggy smell could have been the reason for the term to be derives from “koris”.

History

Coriander is considered to be one of the world’s oldest spices. Evidence suggests that the use of coriander traced back to at least 5,000 BC. In this time, coriander was used by different communities around the world. The spice is native to the Middle Eastern areas and was also to be found in the Mediterranean. Moreover, it has also been used by many Asian countries for thousands of years. The spice is also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, suggesting that it might have been around for longer than we might actually think. It is also said that the cultivation of coriander took place in ancient Egypt, where it was used for cooking as well as for its medicinal properties. The spice was also used in the Roman culture. However, the Romans use coriander in order to be able to preserve the breads and to preserve meat. It is also suggested that Hippocrates used coriander. He did not only use the spice as medicine but also used it as an aromatic stimulant. Some of the countries producing coriander are Morocco, India, the Netherlands and the Russian Federation. Most of these countries export coriander to states all around the world. A large number goes to India and China, since coriander is frequently used in these cuisines.

Health Benefits

Cilantro provides many health benefits. It is therefore not surprising that cilantro has been used for its medical properties in certain cultures. Cilantro does not contain cholesterol and the herb contains almost no calories. Instead, it is a rich source of vitamins, oils and antioxidants. These nutrients are not only essential for the human body, but they can also help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Both cilantro as well as its coriander seeds contain many essential oils which are not often to be found in other food products. These essential oils include linalool, cineole, terpineol, pinene and terpinolene. As mentioned, the herb also has antioxidant properties which are to be found in both the stem of the herb as well as its leaves. These properties include rhamentin and epigenin, which help to improve the body’s immune system. Moreover, coriander is also a source of manganese, iron, potassium and calcium. Iron is an important nutrient for the body since it plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells. Potassium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate. Cilantro also contains high levels of vitamin C. 100 grams of cilantro provides almost 30% of the daily recommended levels of vitamin C. Besides vitamin C, cilantro is also a source of vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in the body since it contributes to maintaining healthy cells. Also, vitamin A is crucial for optimal vision. Vitamin K is also to be found in cilantro. Vitamin K helps the body is building bone mass.


How to grow cilantro

While most people choose to buy cilantro in the store, some people prefer to grow their own cilantro in their garden. It is not only easy to grow cilantro, but  you will also be guaranteed that your herb is fresh. Also, you will know that no pesticides have been added. When wanting to grow cilantro, make sure that cilantro has its own space in the garden to grow. Thus, do not put it together with other herbs that you might be growing in the garden. Cilantro usually grows very fast in colder temperatures. It is therefore recommended to grow cilantro during spring or fall. When cilantro grows during this time period, it creates a rosette of leaves. When the weather becomes more warm, the plants grows long flower stalks which contain white or pink blossoms. These blossoms are the coriander seeds, which can be used when they are dried. When growing cilantro, you will most likely notice that it has some problems with mildew. In order to control mildew, it is recommended to remove infected plants as soon as possible. Also, if cilantro is being eaten by insects, you might want to consider buying a insecticidal soap. Another tip is to clean up cilantro plants by the end of the season. Interestingly, cilantro has a very quick life cycle. You will notice this especially when you are growing cilantro in spring. You might have to get used to this quick life cycle. However, once you have an idea of how to maintain the plant, you will know when to harvest new cilantro.

How to select and store

Cilantro can be bought in almost any supermarket. There are a few things you should pay attention to when buying cilantro in the store. When buying cilantro, make sure that the leaves have a deep green color. Also, you will know that the cilantro is fresh if it is has a crisp, is firm and does not have any brown or yellow spots. If it has yellow spots, this usually means that the cilantro has been out for a while. If you prefer coriander seeds, you will be able to find these in the spice section of the store. It is recommended to use whole coriander seeds instead of coriander powder. This is due to the fact that coriander powder loses its flavor rather quickly compared to whole coriander seeds. If your local supermarket does not sell fresh coriander, try going to an Asian or Mediterranean store. Since coriander is often used in these cuisines, you will have more chance of finding fresh coriander there. Moreover, if possible, try and buying cilantro which is organically grown. In this way you will know that the herb you are buying has not been irradiated. Coriander seeds and its powder should be stored in a glass container. It is also preferred to keep it in a dry and dark place. You will be able to store the spice up to one year. Fresh coriander, on the other hand, should be stored in the fridge. When storing cilantro in the fridge, it is recommended to leave the roots attached. If you buy cilantro without the roots, wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel and then store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Fresh coriander leaves usually only last for a couple of days. You will recognize when the leaves have gone bad, since they usually turn yellow. It is also possible to freeze cilantro. You can either pre-cut the leaves, or store them as whole leaves.

Culinary use of coriander

Before using cilantro, make sure it is thoroughly washed. In this way you will not only remove any residual pesticides, but you will also guarantee that there will not be any dirt or sand left. As mentioned earlier, cilantro can be used in a large variety of dishes. The versatility of herb is due to its unique aromatic flavor. It can be added to add taste to chicken, fish or meat stews. It is also possible to use cilantro in the preparation of sauces. A popular type of pesto in the Mediterranean is called cilantro pesto. This pesto includes fresh cilantro, garlic gloves, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and red pepper. This pesto can be used as a spread on a sandwich, or be added to paste. Cilantro also gives extra flavor to a green salad. Roughly chop up cilantro leaves and spread them on your salad. Furthermore, one of the most popular uses of coriander powder is in garam masala powder. This is used in Indian curries. Coriander powder gives a distinct taste to this dish.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1729x
Added: 14-11-2016 11:32
Last modified: 05-12-2016 21:27

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